DPP says strange Najib needed handwriting expert to verify his own signature

(NST) – The issue of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s signature on some contentious documents which implicated him took centre stage in the morning session of the SRC International appeal hearing today.

Lead prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram enlightened the three member bench of judges how the former prime minister was able to recognise some of his signatures but needed a handwriting expert to verify other, selected ones.

“He was able to identify some of his signatures on certain documents based on the contents.

“However, he was not able to do so for other important documents that seriously implicated him to the offences he is charged with,” the senior Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) said.

Sithambaram said Najib could have easily confirmed the authenticity of his own signatures when the seven documents were handed to him way before the SRC trial started in April 2019.

The documents, he pointed out, were served on Najib in Oct 2018 and Jan 2019.

“He would have known whether his signatures were forged or otherwise when he had first sight of the documents way before the trial.

“However, at that time he confirmed the signatures with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Investigating Officer (IO) when he was the sitting prime minister,” the DPP noted.

Sithambaram said the issue of the authenticity of Najib’s signatures only cropped up suddenly after the Pekan Member of Parliament (MP) was called to enter his defence over the seven charges he faced involving abuse of RM42 million of SRC funds.

At that stage, he said Najib suddenly wanted a handwriting expert from Australia (Dr Steven J Strach) to examine the disputed documents and ascertain whether his own signatures were authentic.

“He is the best person to know whether his signatures are authentic or forged.

“It is absurd for him to claim that he became doubtful of his signatures only after discovering that the original documents were not tendered as exhibits in court during the trial.

“This is clearly an afterthought to rebut the Judge’s finding at the close of the prosecution case that he was in fact the agent and shadow director of SRC based on the seven disputed documents,” Sithambaram said.

Sithambaram said in the end, the defence never bothered to call the handwriting expert to testify after informing the court that an impasse had arisen relating to Dr Strach’s appointment.

He said the defence should have called another expert in place of Dr Strach since they had relied on the forgery of the documents as vital to their case.

The hearing before judges Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, Datuk Has Zanah Mehat and Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera continues.

Najib was jailed 12 years and fined RM210 million by the Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali in July last year.