PUTRAJAYA (April 20): Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s defence scored an “own goal” when it tendered evidence that effectively contradicted his claim of not knowing his personal bank account’s status in relation to RM42 million of SRC International funds, the Court of Appeal heard today.
Ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram said this during rebuttal to Najib’s appeal hearing against his conviction and jail sentence for misappropriating RM42 million belonging to SRC International.
Sithambaram highlighted how the numerous BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) chats between the 54th prosecution witness (PW54) AmBank relationship manager Joanna Yu Ging Ping and fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low had instead indicated actual knowledge on Najib’s part regarding the status and transactions involving his personal accounts.
“The defence alleged the prosecution shifted the goal post.
“But here they scored their own goal,” he said in his submission.
Sithambaram said BBM chats created and raised a strong inference that Najib must have had actual knowledge on the status, the countless transactions in and out if his accounts and the actual balances for him to take action in utilising the funds including the monies of SRC International that entered his bank accounts.
Relevant chat transcripts that fortified Najib’s actual knowledge of the funds within his accounts include occasions where Jho Low would forward BBM text messages he received from Najib to PW54 and copying BBM text messages that Jho Low had sent to Najib on the account balances after enquiring with PW54 on the exact balances.
Najib’s defence has throughout the trial contended that the former prime minister did not know of the fund’s source and subsequent utilisation of it does not prove the element of dishonest misappropriation under criminal breach of trust (CBT).
Sithambaram then cited Najib’s cross-examination transcript and BBM chats where evidence Najib provided instead confirmed he indeed had communications with Jho Low directly through messages on his accounts’ status.
“The BBM chats where reference is made by Jho Low to the appellant were readily admitted by the appellant as being his messages sent to Jho Low.
“The appellant admitted that he could gauge how much he could spend by communicating on a few occasions with Jho Low.
“The appellant further states that he communicated with his private secretary, Datuk Azlin Alias, who informed him as to how much the appellant could spend.
“In short, there is an admission by the appellant that he knew his bank balances from Jho Low and Azlin,” he said, adding that Najib’s defence that he never knew the balances in his account thus failed.
Najib’s direct evidence of admission of knowledge on the RM42m transfer
Earlier, Sithambaram also cited another piece of direct evidence which he said confirmed Najib’s knowledge that RM42 million was transferred into his bank account from SRC International.
This manifested in the evidence provided by lawyer Ranjit Singh, who is also the 55th prosecution witness (PW55), which showed Najib’s actual knowledge through the admission in the pleadings filed on his behalf and his own sworn affidavit in the civil suit instituted against Tun Ling Liong Sik.
“The appellant thereafter filed an application for an order to strike out the defence of qualified privilege used by Tun Ling in that civil suit.
In that application, in reply to Tun Ling’s averments stated in his affidavit, Najib affirmed on oath an affidavit the following:
“I have admitted that the US$700 million did enter my account as a personal donation and the 42 million which originated from SRC entered my account without knowing that it was channelled via two intermediaries,” Najib said.
Therefore, Sithambaram said Najib cannot now rescind his previous written admission on oath that the RM42 million that entered into his personal bank accounts were indeed monies from SRC entrusted to him and were knowingly misappropriated for his own benefit.
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. — Malay Mail