Court dismisses Najib’s appeal in lawsuit against Ambank, ex-banker Joanna Yu over negligence, breach of duty in SRC case

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Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court January 27, 2022. ― Picture by Hari Anggara
Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court January 27, 2022. ― Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 27 — The Court of Appeal has today dismissed Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s appeal to reinstate his lawsuit against AMMB Holdings Berhad and two others over alleged mismanagement of his bank accounts.

Najib had appealed for the court to reinstate his suit against AMMB Holdings Berhad, AmBank Islamic and its former customer relationship manager Joanna Yu Ging Ping.

In a unanimous decision to dismiss Najib’s appeal, Court of Appeal judge Datuk Yaacob Md Sam said the panel was in agreement with the findings of the High Court on the potentiality of an abuse of the court process if civil proceedings were to be initiated for the purpose of mounting a collateral attack on the final decision and findings that have been reached by a competent court of criminal adjudication.

“In conclusion, having considered the submission and grounds of judgement of the learned High Court judge, we find there is no appellable error committed by the learned High Court judge in her decision by allowing the respondent’s application which warrants appellant intervention.

“We therefore find there is no merit in this appeal on the appellant and we therefore dismiss the appeals respectively with cost.

“The order of the High Court dated September 28, 2020 is hereby affirmed,” Yaacob who chaired a three-member bench with Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail and Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim said in their judgement.

The bench also ordered Najib to pay RM40,000 in costs to the bank and another RM35,000 to Yu who were named as respondents in the suit.

In this appeal, Najib had appealed for the court to reinstate his suit against AMMB Holdings Berhad, AmBank Islamic and its former customer relationship manager Joanna Yu Ging Ping, after his suit was struck out by the Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Datuk Khadijah Idris in September 2020.

Yu was one of the key prosecution’s witnesses in the SRC International Sdn Bhd trial where Najib was found guilty of all seven charges relating to the misappropriation of SRC’s RM42 million funds.

Yaacob said the panel was inclined to also agree with the submissions presented in the ongoing suit, in that it was not for the purpose of seeking damage but in reality a collateral attack on what had already transpired and been completed before the criminal court: the conviction and sentencing of Najib.

He also said it would be improper for the civil court to intrude into the domain of the criminal court as the matter cannot be adjudicated by different courts.

Justice Yaacob said the criminal charges Najib is facing cannot be attributable to AmBank, AmBank Islamic and Yu as the attorney general can institute any criminal charges based on the Penal Code, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 and Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 in the SRC case.

Representing Najib at the Court of Appeal today was lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

Meanwhile, lawyers Yoong Sin Min and Benjamin Dawson represented AmBank and AmBank Islamic.

Representing Yu was lawyer Datuk Dr Gurdial Singh Nijar.

On July 28 last year, High Court judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali convicted and sentenced Najib to 12 years’ jail and fined him RM210 million over the SRC International criminal case and the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court judge’s decision on December 8 last year. Najib’s appeal is pending in the Federal Court.

In his suit against AmBank, AMMB Holdings and Yu, Najib contended in his statement of claim that AmBank and Yu had committed negligence when handling his bank accounts by disclosing them to fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low.

Najib claimed that AmBank, AMMB Holdings and Yu, without authorisation, had disclosed his bank statements, debit and credit remittance transactions, and balance of funds of one of his accounts to Jho Low as the third party.

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