PUTRAJAYA, Aug 23 — The Federal Court today ruled that Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak during the SRC International Sdn Bhd trail did not dispute that RM42 million had entered into his personal bank accounts.
A five-member bench led by Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat when reading out the 15-page judgment said the thrust of Najib’s defence was to challenge the mens rea element, that is, he denied knowledge that the funds were from SRC.
The top judge said, the prosecution maintained that the defence was unworthy of belief because, on the one hand, the defence maintained that the RM42 million said to have been wrongfully gained by the appellant (Najib) to the wrongful loss to SRC was not within the knowledge of the appellant.
On the other hand, the appellant also maintained that he was framed in a conspiracy hatched by fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low, Datuk Azlin Alias (former principal private secretary of Najib), Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil (former chief executive officer of SRC), and the bankers.
“The appellant also maintained the defence that the monies that were credited into his personal AmIslamic bank accounts, ending 880 and 906 which were the subject of the last six charges, were received from Arab Donations from Saudi Arabia.
“The respondent contended in essence, that they had always maintained at trial that these defences are completely inconsistent and diametrically opposed to one another. The respondent also referred to documentary evidence which established that the appellant had expended the RM42 million,” she said.
The Chief Justice added that the learned High Court Judge (Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali) correctly evaluated all the evidence led in relation to the defence and did not believe the defence narrative.
Tengku Maimun said the court concluded that the findings of the High Court on the defence are correct.
“In concluding that the defence failed to raise a reasonable doubt on the prosecution case, we find that the learned High Court Judge had undertaken a thorough analysis of the evidence produced by the defence.
“Thus, we are unable to conclude that any of the findings of the High Court, as affirmed by the Court of Appeal were perverse or plainly wrong so as to warrant appellate intervention. We agree that the defence is so inherently inconsistent and incredible that it does not raise a reasonable doubt on the prosecution case,” the chief justice said.
In dismissing the final appeal by Najib, who was also former finance minister, the Chief Justice said the panel found the appellant’s complaints as contained in the petition of appeal devoid of any merit.
“We find the conviction of the appellant on all seven charges safe. We also find that the sentence imposed is not manifestly excessive. The conviction and sentence are affirmed,” she ruled.
Earlier, Justice Tengku Maimun said in the present appeals where counsel is present in name and in person but persistently refused to make any submission despite repeated calls from the court to do so, the court is empowered to proceed with the appeals according to Section 92 of the Courts of the Judicature Act 1964.
Having said that, she said the bench proceeded to consider the appellant’s appeals by having regard to the appeal records including the petition of appeal setting out no less than 94 grounds of appeal, the submissions filed in the Court of Appeal and the written judgements of the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
“We do not consider it necessary to reproduce the charges or repeat any of the facts which have been adequately stated and analysed in the judgements of the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
“The learned trial judge undertook an extensive analysis of all the evidence – documentary and oral that surfaced before him over the 86 or so days of trial. The Court of Appeal meticulously examined these findings and found no appealable errors,” she said.
Justice Tengku Maimun said the role of the apex court, as is settled law, is not to make any new findings of fact on the evidence on record or to substitute those findings with its own.
On July 28, 2020, the then High Court Judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, who is now a Court of Appeal judge, sentenced Najib to 10 years’ jail on each of the three counts of criminal breach of trust (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.
However, Najib would have to serve only 12 years in jail as the judge ordered all the jail sentences to run concurrently.
Last year, the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s decision and dismissed Najib’s appeal to set aside his conviction and jail sentence as well as the fine.