Najib’s claim Jho Low ‘manipulated’ his bank account to deceive him ‘a cock-and-bull story’, SRC appeal hears

Kenneth Tee
·4-min read
Lead prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram is pictured at the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya April 20, 2021. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Lead prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram is pictured at the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya April 20, 2021. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PUTRAJAYA, April 20 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak is the one “playing tricks” to “bury the obvious truth” following claims that fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho “manipulated” his personal bank account to deceive him into believing he had funds, when he did not, the Court of Appeal heard today.

Ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram said this during the prosecution’s rebuttal in Najib’s appeal hearing against the former prime minister’s conviction and jail sentence for the misappropriation of RM42 million in SRC International Sdn Bhd funds.

Describing Najib’s claim as absurd, Sithambaram highlighted to the court how Low Taek Jho or Jho Low, Najib’s former principle private secretary Datuk Seri Azlin Alias and former SRC International chief executive Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil were tasked to ensure sufficient funds were available for Najib to issue cheques and spend.

He said the three individuals were akin to a Roman triumvirate tasked by Najib with ensuring that funds were readily available and said fact was acknowledged by Najib himself under cross-examination.

“How can this be a trick? The appellant is playing a trick to bury the obvious truth.

“It’s so bizarre My Lord. I cannot make heads or tails. It’s a cock-and-bull story,” he said.

Sithambaram said the only certainty is that Low was intensely involved in ensuring there were sufficient funds for Najib to spend.

“As submitted earlier, even the appellant himself had admitted that Jho Low was tasked together with Datuk Azlin and Nik Faisal to ensure that sufficient funds were available for him to utilise.

“The actions of Jho Low were done with full knowledge of the appellant and not to deceive the appellant into thinking he had Arab funds in his account,” he said in his submission.

He said evidence adduced in court clearly showed that Najib alone benefited and gained millions from the monies deposited into his accounts despite insisting that Low “manipulated” his accounts of which Najib claimed to have no part.

“The appellant even admitted that although he claimed that he had been manipulated, he had not lost anything but instead gained millions from the monies deposited into his accounts by Jho Low, the manipulator, which the appellant readily spent,” he said.

Three issues were also raised by Sithambaram to highlight the “self-serving” nature of the defence argument, in that Najib was framed by Low and purportedly by the bankers involved to make it appear that he had indeed committed criminal breach of trust offences.

“Firstly, there is no logic for Jho Low to deceive the appellant and make him think that the Arab donations were still available,” he said.

Sithambaram added that anyone with a simple knowledge of basic mathematics, let alone a finance minister, could have known that the RM42 million was not Arab donation since it would have dried up judging by the way Najib spent them.

Earlier, Sithambaram said the contention that Najib believed the source of funds in his account came from the Arab donation is unbelievable because the money trail in bank documents showed the said bulk of the donations was either returned and the remainder had been fully utilised by before the deposit of the RM42 million from SRC International.

“Secondly, the appellant himself admits that Jho Low was tasked with ensuring there were funds for his needs at all times. That was why Jho Low was pumping monies into the appellant’s bank accounts which the appellant was constantly spending.

“Thirdly, if the appellant had apparently discovered Jho Low’s deception, there would have been investigations that could show Jho Low utilising SRC funds. That would also entail investigations showing that SRC’s funds were being utilised by the appellant,” he said.

Sithambaram further submitted that the defence was hiding the truth by claiming Najib was under the belief that the monies he was spending were actually from the Arab donations.

“In actual fact, the said funds were from Jho Low, who was ‘bank-rolling’ the appellant.

“Blaming Jho Low for ensuring that the appellant had adequate funds in his personal account is simply outrageous,” he said.

In the RM42 million SRC International case, Najib was sentenced to 10 years’ jail on each of the three counts of CBT and each of the three counts of money laundering, and 12 years’ jail and a RM210 million fine, in default five years’ jail, in the case of abuse of position on July 28 last year.

However, Najib will only serve 12 years in jail as the judge ordered all the jail sentences to run concurrently.

The appeal hearing before Court of Appeal judge Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil who chaired a three-member panel alongside Datuk Has Zanah Mehat and Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera continues.

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