Najib fails in attempt to add fresh evidence in SRC appeal

(FMT) – The Court of Appeal today dismissed Najib Razak’s application to include fresh evidence to set aside his conviction in the RM42 million SRC International corruption appeal.

The former prime minister, who is on RM2 million bail, will appear before a three-member bench chaired by Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, when judgment is delivered on his appeal tomorrow via Zoom.

Karim said the bench disallowed Najib’s application as he failed to show the fresh evidence was not available during the appeal, or that it was relevant, capable of belief, and that the new evidence will create doubt in the prosecution’s case.

“Further, the applicant also failed to satisfy Section 61 of the Courts of Judicature Act that fresh evidence is required for the justice of the case,” said Karim, who is sitting with Has Zanah Mehat and Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera.

It was a hybrid proceeding this afternoon, with the prosecution team led by ad hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram making submissions before the judges here while Najib’s lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah presented his case from his home.

Najib, who earlier in the day was absent from court and risked being issued an arrest warrant, followed the hearing of the application also from his home after the bench refused a postponement this morning.

In a letter filed and addressed to the Court of Appeal’s registrar yesterday, Shafee sought to vacate the hearing for both today and tomorrow after one of the team’s lawyers tested positive for Covid-19 after three different tests.

This was after a mother of another lawyer in Najib’s legal team tested positive for Covid-19 earlier in the day, which led to all counsel at the firm screening themselves as well.

Shafee said the MySejahtera status of all those involved had been changed to casual or close contact as they await an appropriate time to conduct a PCR test.

Najib is appealing to quash his conviction on seven charges of abuse of power, money laundering and criminal breach of trust (CBT) over SRC International funds.

The Court of Appeal heard the appeal proceeding for 15 days in April and May.

Last year, High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali sentenced Najib to 12 years’ jail and fined him RM210 million after finding him guilty on all seven charges.

Najib was accused of abusing his power as the prime minister by giving government guarantees on SRC International’s RM4 billion loan from the Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP).

He was also slapped with three counts of CBT and three money laundering charges in relation to RM42 million belonging to SRC International, a former unit of 1MDB.

Najib filed a notice of motion on Dec 1 to bring up evidence from Malaysian Anti- Corruption Commission (MACC) chief Azam Baki and SRC investigating officer Rosli Hussein or others deemed fit by the court.

In his affidavit in support of the motion, Najib said all issues raised in the High Court and Court of Appeal had not been fully determined and that it was within the interest of justice that he obtained a fair trial by producing all evidence.

He said the MACC had, on Nov 19, confirmed that RM65 million in 1MDB-linked funds were recovered from Cutting Edge Industries, a company in Singapore controlled by Tawfiq Ayman and his business partner, Samuel Goh.

Tawfiq is the husband of former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz.

It was reported earlier this year that Iron Rhapsody, owned by Tawfiq and his son, received a total of RM66 million from companies and bank accounts linked to fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, who is at the centre of the 1MDB scandal.

Singapore police were also reported to have informed BNM in 2015 and 2016 of these suspicious transactions involving companies owned by Tawfiq, with the funds coming from accounts linked to Low. Zeti was the BNM governor at the time.

Deputy public prosecutor Budiman Lutfi Mohamed said the former prime minister relied on mere conjecture and speculation to establish that there exists a conspiracy to suppress evidence relating to the trial.

He said the application failed to establish any exceptional circumstances, adding that it was deliberately timed and not due to subsequent unravelling of events.

He said Zeti had been offered as a witness when Najib was ordered to enter his defence but the defence chose not to call or interview her.

Budiman said Zeti’s evidence at best was only relevant to the on-going 1MDB trial and not the SRC appeal.

He said recent explanations by law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar and former attorney-general Tommy Thomas did not support the contention or prove that the prosecution had actively concealed evidence that favoured Najib.

Further, he said Thomas’ explanation stated that investigations had not been completed.