Court upholds Najib’s conviction for misappropriating RM42m from SRC International

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Police personnel are seen at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya December 8, 2021. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Police personnel are seen at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya December 8, 2021. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

PUTRAJAYA, Dec 8 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak has failed to appeal his conviction and sentencing involving the misappropriation of RM42 million belonging to SRC International Sdn Bhd, after the Court of Appeal affirmed the High Court’s ruling.

Judge Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, who chaired the three-man bench alongside Datuk Has Zanah Mehat and Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera, delivered the ruling via video-conferencing at the Palace of Justice here.

The senior judge also said it was clear that the RM42 million recorded in Najib’s accounts originated from SRC International.

“The money trail clearly records that the said RM42 million originated from SRC’s AmIslamic Bank account and transited through the bank accounts of Gandingan Mentari Sdn Bhd (GMSB) and Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd (IPSB) before being deposited into the appellant’s bank accounts.

“The fact that the funds flowed through these intermediary companies does not necessarily mean that SRC no longer has a proprietary interest in these funds, nor does it mean that the funds do not belong to SRC.

“Evidence has established that the flow of these funds through GMSB and IPSB was to layer the transaction and disguise the flow of funds such that it is made more difficult to track the funds’ nexus to SRC and avoid detection by the authorities.

“In the final analysis, we dismiss the appellant’s appeal against both conviction and sentence on all charges and affirm the orders of the High Court,” Abdul Karim said when delivering the unanimous decision today.

Furthermore, Abdul Karim said Najib never raised any complaint with Ambank that RM42 million was wrongly credited into his accounts, yet was content with receiving and utilising the funds to his liking.

“The learned trial judge took this to mean that the transfers into his bank accounts must have been done with the appellant’s knowledge for otherwise he would not have spent the RM42 million.

Abdul Karim said the natural thing for any account holder who had mistakenly or inadvertently received funds into his account was to return it and correct the error, which Najib failed to do.

“Thus, the entirety of the evidence fortifies the learned judge’s inference that the appellant certainly had knowledge of the RM42 million that was transferred to his account,” he said.

As for knowledge that the proceeds were from unlawful activities, the appellate court was also in full agreement with the trial judge’s finding that Najib had without any reasonable excuse deliberately shut his eyes and chosen not to take steps to ascertain the origins of the funds.

“The evidence clearly shows that the appellant knew, or had reason to believe or had reasonable suspicion that the funds entering his personal bank accounts at AmIslamic Bank were proceeds from unlawful activities.

“We agree with the learned trial judge that the appellant’s contention that he had justifiable reasons not to suspect anything untoward in the flow of RM42 million into his account is simply flawed.

“But instead relied wholly on others whilst at the same time spending the RM42 million for his own purposes and benefit,” Abdul Karim said.

The bench also expressed satisfaction over the sentence imposed after taking into consideration the circumstances of the facts of the case, describing them as wholly adequate and commensurate with the nature of the offences.

“Overall, we find that the learned trial judge did not err in the application of the sentencing principles, neither is there an error on the part of the trial judge in appreciating the material facts placed before him, nor had he made a wrong decision as to the proper factual basis for the sentencing, nor do we find the sentences to be manifestly excessive.

“We find that there is proper consideration by the learned trial judge of all factors that are relevant to be taken into consideration in sentencing,” Abdul Karim concluded.

Earlier, Najib and his defence team were noticeably absent from the courtroom as they were observing a quarantine order imposed over their contact with a known Covid-19 patient during the weekend.

Lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah represented Najib while ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram appeared for the prosecution.

Najib was appealing the High Court’s decision from July 28, 2020, which found him guilty of all seven charges relating to SRC’s RM42 million.

The High Court previously sentenced Najib to 10 years’ jail for each of six charges (three counts each of criminal breach of trust and money laundering), as well as 12 years’ jail and a RM210 million fine with an additional five years’ jail if the fine is not paid for the abuse of position charge.

The High Court had decided that all the prison sentences would run concurrently or at the same time, which would mean a maximum imprisonment of 12 years for Najib.

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