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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

'Many problems' with Najib's testimonies over Arab donation - judge


There were "many problems" with former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's testimonies on the so-called Arab donation he received in his personal bank accounts, said High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.
Nazlan (above), who handed down jail sentences against Najib in relation to the misappropriation of RM42 million of SRC International Sdn Bhd's funds, said the accused, in testifying as a witness, did not personally hear or was informed that the late King Abdullah or the Saudi royal family wanted to provide financial assistance to support his leadership.
"There was no evidence of the accused attempting to verify this intention attributed to King Abdullah with anyone. Not with the King directly, nor with any of the government officials who could have easily checked to verify the information for the prime minister.
"Furthermore, no evidence if the intended donation would be accompanied by any conditions of use, either. None whatsoever. The accused merely took the word of fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low.
"Regardless of Jho Low’s influence within segments of the Arab royalty, and the accused's own confidence in him based on what he had accomplished, I find that the failure of the accused to ensure official confirmation of the intended donations from King Abdullah shows that his belief that the donations would be gifted by King Abdullah to have been most improbable. In other words, the accused held no such belief," said the judge in his brief judgment.
On the claim that King Abdullah wished to make a personal donation to the accused, Nazlan said for the leader of another country to pay into the latter's personal bank account appears unusual in international relations, even at the personal level between leaders of different countries.
"There has been a total absence of any official governmental confirmation both by Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, that the accused, as the prime minister had in actual fact been receiving in his personal account personal donation from King Abdullah during the relevant period.
"All roads lead to Rome and in this case, it leads to Riyadh. The many arguments of the accused relate to the crux of the defence of the accused, which is that his belief and state of knowledge of his accounts and their operations was premised on the alleged Arab donation monies.
"I have earlier mentioned that the argument that the accused had no knowledge of the remittance of the RM42 million was not only reliant on his alleged non-involvement in the management of his own accounts and the absence of knowledge about the balances but was also crucially heavily predicated on his belief about the Arab donation monies. This then raises the question whether his alleged belief and knowledge that the foreign remittances came from King Abdullah is genuine or contrived," he said.
Explaining further, Nazlan also said the Pekan member of Parliament did not take the logical step of returning the RM42 million to the company (SRC) after being informed about it by Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd's director Shamsul Anwar Sulaiman and former 1Malaysia People's Foundation (YR1M) chief executive officer Ung Su Ling.
"But in cross-examination despite repeated questioning, the accused maintained he did not return the money because investigations were pending. This is unconvincing since, given the doubts, he should have at least offered to set RM42 million aside for a possible return to SRC or as the authorities might determine. That did not happen.
"On the totality of the evidence, the defence has failed to raise any reasonable doubt on the prosecution case. I am satisfied that it has been established beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused, as a shadow director and a director of SRC (as defined under Section 402A of the Penal Code) who was entrusted with the dominion over the property of the company had, with dishonest intention misappropriated (and converted for his own use) funds belonging to SRC in the sums of RM27 million, RM5 million and RM10 million as specified in the three CBT charges respectively," he said.
On the money laundering charges, the judge said given the facts and evidence as stated, as the account holder, the accused could not be said to have been vigilant and taken steps to ensure that the RM42 million received in his accounts was not proceeds of any unlawful activity and that he knew that the source of those monies is lawful.
He said the circumstances which in this case so patently aroused suspicions in an overwhelming fashion lead only to the irresistible conclusion that the accused deliberately chose not to question and probe substantive questions that plainly required verification so that he could deny knowledge and this was willful blindness.
"In the instant case, circumstances then prevailing had given rise to such a considerable degree of suspicion in that it must have been patently obvious to the accused that the funds could not have originated from King Abdullah.
"However, the accused took not a single step to investigate in order to find out the truth of the matter. The accused’s defence that he honestly believed that the funds remitted into his accounts were donations from King Abdullah was nothing but an implausible concoction.
"For the avoidance of doubt, I must emphasise that notwithstanding the finding on the accused being willfully blind to the receipt of the proceeds of unlawful activities in his Accounts 880 and 906 as charged in the money laundering offences, the facts and evidence of this case as relevant to the dishonest intention and knowledge for the CBT charges also warrant the inference that the accused knew that the RM42 million that followed into his accounts were from SRC International under Section 4(2) (a) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act (AMLATFPUAA).
"As such, I find that the defence has failed to cast any reasonable doubt on the case against the accused under Section 4(1) of AMLATFPUAA as framed in the three money laundering charges. I, therefore, hold that the prosecution has proven its case of money laundering as specified in the three charges against the accused beyond a reasonable doubt," said the judge.
Yesterday, Najib was sentenced to 12 years' jail and a RM210 million fine after he was found guilty of all seven charges related to the misappropriation of RM42 million of SRC funds.
He was sentenced to 10 years' jail on each of the three cases of CBT and each of the three cases of money laundering and 12 years' jail and RM210 million fine, in default five years' jail, in the case of abuse of position. The judge ordered all the jail sentences to run concurrently.
- Bernama

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