SRC trial: Prosecution insists Najib knew RM42m entered account

Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin And Kenneth Tee

Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court, October 22, 2019. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 22 — Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was complicit in the deposits totalling RM42 million from SRC International Sdn Bhd in his private bank accounts, the prosecution maintained in the High Court today.

Ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram pointed out how Najib, who was the finance minister when the alleged offence took place, did not lodge any report with authorities over what the defence sought to portray as a wrongful transfer of funds into his account.

“The prosecution submits that the accused’s reaction on finding out that monies had been paid into his accounts by PW37 and PW49 is nothing more than a drama on the following considerations,” said Sithambaram during the prosecution’s oral submission before High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.

Sithambaram was referring to Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd’s managing director Datuk Dr Shamsul Anwar Sulaiman as the prosecution’s 37th witness, and former Yayasan Rakyat 1Malaysia chief executive Ung Su Ling who was the 49th witness respectively.

Among the reasons listed by the prosecution that quashed the claims of innocence was how the cash was not only spent by Najib, but that he had issued cheques, and not lodged a formal report over the monies to any authorities.

“That the accused as the serving prime minister and finance minister had actually utilised the RM42 million being the subject matter of CBT (criminal breach of trust) charge.

“That the accused, if he was innocent of this sum of RM42 million paid into his account, should have sued the bank for unlawful deposit of the said sum which may well amount to his account being used for money laundering,” said Sithambaram.

The lawyer also pointed out how Najib, were he actually shocked by the transactions, would have translated his doubts into a police report being lodged, “to show his outrage of unauthorised monies being paid into his account”.

“The accused should have hounded the police to investigate the case which caused (sic) him his reputation; none of these simple steps were taken which showed that the accused present cry of innocence cannot be true.

“Therefore, the accused’s inaction is incredible of a person whose account could have been used to perpetuate a crime unless the accused was aware of the crime himself and feared any police report would expose him,” he said.

Sithambaram said based on the testimony of the 21st witness, AmBank Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager R. Uma Devi, Najib had personally issued cheques from his personal bank accounts ending-880 and ending-898.

“Therefore, he had knowledge or ought to have knowledge of these large cheques being issued out of his personal accounts.

“The submission claiming ignorance of the funds credited and cheques issued out of the accused’s accounts by the defence cannot be accepted as credible, especially since the accused was the then finance minister of Malaysia managing the finance of this entire country,” he quipped.

Prosecution lawyer V. Sithambaram is seen during SRC Trial at Kuala Lumpur High Court October 22,2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

Sithambaram also addressed the issue of admissibility of evidence tendered in court, namely concerning BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) chats involving fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, which has been the subject of constant dispute from the defence.

He dismissed claims that the evidence was mere hearsay, saying the third party that was the subject of the BBM chats was in court and available to verify or deny the allegations.

“Here, the third person is the accused and he is available in court,” he said, referring to Najib.

He then cited examples of BBM conversations between Low and the 54th witness Joanna Yu Ging Ping, where the former had on several times instructed the then AmBank relationship manager to make sure cheques issued by Najib did not bounce.

“It is clear that Jho Low never utilised any of the funds in the accused’s three current accounts and therefore he did not gain anything by depositing funds into the accounts except to ensure that the cheques of Optimus Prime did not bounce,” said Sithambaram.

“Optimus Prime” was revealed in court as a moniker for Najib that was used by Low and Yu in their BBM chats.

“The BBM chats confirms that when funds were needed in the accused accounts, steps were taken to deposit the funds as needed.

“The accused cannot claim that he had no knowledge of the funds because he was always ready to issue cheques without a second thought,” Sithambaram said.

“Such an assumption can only be made by the accused if he knew that funds were being pumped into his account, unless of course, the accused believed that the money in his personal account grew on trees,” he said.

The prosecuting lawyer argued that such assumptions of Najib being oblivious concerning the management of his bank accounts had become invalid.

Najib’s SRC International trial began on April 3 this year with the prosecution calling 57 witnesses to the stand.

Those who testified included former second finance minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah, former SRC International board chairman Tan Sri Ismee Ismail and Datuk Azian Mohd Noh who is former Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP) chief executive.

Out of the seven charges Najib faced, the Pekan MP is accused of committing three counts of criminal breach of trust over a total RM42 million of SRC International funds while entrusted with its control as the prime minister and finance minister then, and a separate charge under an anti-corruption law of abusing the same positions for self-gratification of the same RM42 million sum.

The remaining three of the seven charges are for allegedly money-laundering the same total sum of RM42 million.

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