KUALA LUMPUR, June 7 — Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has today applied to the Federal Court to cancel the High Court’s decision which found him guilty over the misappropriation of RM42 million of SRC International Sdn Bhd’s funds, claiming that the High Court judge who heard his case purportedly had a conflict of interest that may lead to a real danger of bias.
The application was announced by Najib and his lead defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah at a press conference at the Kuala Lumpur court complex here.
The announcement comes ahead of the Federal Court’s scheduled hearing in August of Najib’s final appeal against both the High Court’s guilty verdict against him and the Court of Appeal’s upholding of the guilty verdict and the jail sentence and RM210 million fine sentencing against him.
In the application filed today at the Federal Court to add on evidence to his SRC case, Najib is seeking for the Federal Court to allow him to add the contents of his affidavit and any other further affidavits as additional and further evidence for his SRC appeal at the Federal Court.
Najib is also asking the Federal Court to allow the adding on of the evidence given verbally in court or to be taken in court — by both former 1MDB CEO Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigating officer Rosli Hussein or Rosli’s successor on matters in Najib’s affidavit — to the SRC appeals.
As part of this application, Najib is also seeking for an order from the Federal Court to declare that the entire trial in the High Court for the SRC case be declared null and void, and for the Federal Court to consider ordering a “retrial” of the SRC case against Najib.
Najib is seeking for the Federal Court to hear and decide on this application before it hears his SRC appeal, or alternatively for this application to be heard and decided as a preliminary point before the main SRC appeal starts.
In an affidavit filed in support of his application to add on further evidence to the SRC appeal and to ultimately push for a retrial, Najib claimed to have newly discovered that Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali — the judge who had heard his SRC trial at the High Court — was formerly a general counsel and company secretary at the Maybank Group and head of its corporate and legal services.
Najib claimed that Nazlan’s past Maybank positions led to an alleged conflict of interest in relation to matters such as the bank’s past arranging of loans in 2012 with SRC’s one-time parent company 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
SRC was briefly under 1MDB’s ownership for several months from August 2011 to February 2012, before being placed under the direct ownership of the Finance Ministry’s Minister of Finance Incorporated’s (MOF Inc).
Najib in his affidavit claimed that Nazlan would have been recused from hearing his SRC trial if such evidence had been available earlier.
He further claimed that he had been deprived of a fair trial, and suggesting that he “may have received a judgment different and favourable to me” if the SRC trial judge had been recused.
In his affidavit, Najib said he made this application as soon as he was made aware of and could gather the necessary information and apologised to the Federal Court for any inconvenience.
He urged for the Federal Court to hear his application at the earliest date possible to “prevent any delay” towards the judicial process in the SRC appeal.
After being found guilty at the High Court in July 2020 and losing his appeal at the Court of Appeal in December 2021, Najib had on December 8, 2021 filed his final appeal in the SRC case at the Federal Court.
The Federal Court had on April 29 notified both Najib’s lawyers and the prosecution that it will be hearing his SRC appeal over 10 days from August 15 to August 19, and from August 22 to August 26.
As early as March, Shafee started publicly highlighting the alleged conflict of interest by the SRC trial judge and said he would file an application to the Federal Court over this matter, suggesting that Najib may even seek a retrial.
Previously on March 16, a five-judge panel at the Federal Court had already unanimously rejected Najib’s separate application to bring in purported new evidence to the SRC appeal relating to former Bank Negara Malaysia governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz’s family, ruling that these were not relevant to the SRC case but was instead related to Najib’s separate 1MDB trial.
Najib had also on May 31 filed an application at the High Court to have a London-based Queen’s Counsel, Jonathan Laidlaw, be admitted as a lawyer in Peninsular Malaysia in order to represent him as his lead defence lawyer in the SRC appeal at the Federal Court.
Asked whether Najib would be seeking to have the court hear his application to bring in the UK lawyer first or to hear his application to add on new evidence to cancel the entire SRC trial at the High Court, Shafee said his client would be pursuing both at the same time.
“We are doing it simultaneously, because if the QC is admitted earlier, perhaps you may find the QC arguing this application,” Shafee said.
Shafee said the High Court has scheduled June 16 as the case management date for Najib’s application to have Laidlaw be allowed to practise here for the purpose of representing Najib in his final SRC appeal.