Bar hits back at critics over judge Nazlan’s alleged conflict of interest

(FMT) – The Bar Council has issued a statement defending itself against criticisms for not speaking up on the claims of conflict of interest made against Court of Appeal judge Nazlan Mohd Ghazali in relation to Najib Razak’s SRC International Sdn Bhd case.

“It’s misconceived to expect the Bar Council to ask for Nazlan’s recusal back then, when even legal counsel for the former prime minister claims he was only made aware of such developments recently,” said Bar president Karen Cheah in a statement.

Cheah also said that any call to establish a tribunal to deal with the issue of conflict of interest was “clearly premature and misconceived”.

Cheah was responding to critics who said that the Bar should state its stance on the matter.

On Sunday, Umno supreme council member Puad Zarkashi said the Bar was “selective” in the issues it defended, labelling it as “undignified” and “lacking integrity”. He also said it was very strange why from the beginning, the Bar did not demand that Nazlan recuse himself from Najib’s SRC case.

Puad urged the Bar to speak out and for Nazlan to be investigated by a special tribunal, adding that the latter’s judgment on Najib’s SRC case should be dropped.

On Saturday, former law minister Zaid Ibrahim said questions should be raised about how Nazlan was made the judge in the SRC International case and why.

He called on the Bar to speak up on the issue, just as they had previously asked the original SRC judge, Sofian Abd Razak, to recuse himself due to a possible conflict of interest.

Nazlan was the trial judge who convicted Najib when the SRC International case was heard at the High Court. Najib has cited Nazlan for alleged conflict of interest and has instructed his legal team to apply to adduce new evidence in his trial.

Najib’s application comes in the wake of reports that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has opened an investigation into an unexplained sum of more than RM1 million in Nazlan’s bank account.

Nazlan has denied the allegations and lodged a police report on the matter.

Najib’s lawyer Shafee Abdullah also claimed that Nazlan had failed to disclose his role, involvement, or knowledge in the setting up of SRC International when he served as the general counsel and company secretary for the Maybank Group in 2006.