Onus is on Nazlan to disclose conflict of interest, says Najib
Najib Razak says judge Nazlan Ghazali’s failure to disclose to the parties his conflict of interest in the SRC International trial ‘invalidated the entire proceedings’.
(FMT) – Former prime minister Najib Razak says he was under no duty to inquire whether judge Nazlan Ghazali was involved in, or had knowledge of, matters which ought to have disqualified him from presiding over the SRC International trial.
“It is a wholly alien and, in fact, entirely startling idea that a party is required to carry out ‘due diligence’ on a High Court judge before a trial,” said Najib in an affidavit filed in court on Friday.
“(Nazlan’s) special knowledge places a duty upon him to specifically disclose to the parties his conflict of interest in the SRC trial at the first instance,” he said, adding that Nazlan’s failure to do so invalidated the entire proceedings.
Najib was replying to two prosecution affidavits filed last month opposing his application for a retrial of the criminal case which saw him convicted by Nazlan of seven charges of abuse of power and misappropriation of RM42 million in funds belonging to SRC International, when it was a subsidiary of 1MDB.
The former prime minister is contending that the funds which ended up in his personal account originated from a loan of RM140 million given to 1MDB by Maybank during Nazlan’s tenure as the bank’s group general counsel and company secretary.
“Nazlan was intimately involved in the loan facility extended to 1MDB,” Najib’s affidavit claimed.
“A loan transaction for a significant amount of RM140 million can be reasonably expected to involve strict financial controls, disclosures, stipulations of collaterals and due diligence exercises, all of which would come within the purview of the legal officer of a financial institution.”
That would amount to “actual or constructive knowledge of the transaction itself, or of the lapses involved” which “severely impaired” the judge’s “objectivity and independence,” he said.
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Najib also contends that the prosecution had a duty to disclose all facts favourable to him, including any information obtained during MACC investigations that suggests Nazlan’s conflict of interests.
Convicted and sentenced by Nazlan on July 28, 2020 after a 76-day trial which drew worldwide attention, Najib’s appeal to the Court of Appeal was dismissed on Dec 8 last year. Shafee Abdullah acted as the former prime minister’s lead counsel both at the trial and on appeal.
The present appeal before the Federal Court is Najib’s final opportunity to clear his name.
Two months ago, Najib filed a motion in the Federal Court seeking to adduce fresh evidence. He claims that documents which only came into his possession recently suggest that Nazlan ought not to have presided over the trial due to a serious conflict of interests.
Najib is asking the apex court to admit additional oral evidence from several witnesses, including four MACC officers, which he says will establish Nazlan’s conflict of interests.
On July 21, the Kuala Lumpur High Court rejected his application for leading UK white-collar criminal lawyer Jonathan Laidlaw, QC, to argue his appeal before the apex court.
Najib then discharged Shafee’s firm and appointed new solicitors, Zaid Ibrahim Suflan TH Liew & Partners, with senior criminal lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik as lead counsel.
On July 29, the Federal Court shot down the new legal team’s request for a postponement of the appeal hearing.
Najib’s motion and the appeal are set to be heard from Aug 15 to 26.