Stirring the SRC conspiracy ‘dalcha’

By Sharanjit Singh, NST

There are some hardcore supporters of conspiracy theories involving Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s SRC International Sdn Bhd trial who have become supercharged over a letter.

It all started following the spread of a viral message involving the letter allegedly sent by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to the judiciary involving judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.

By now, everyone following the SRC trial would undoubtedly be familiar with who Nazlan is.

This former Kuala Lumpur High Court judge, who has since been elevated to the Court of Appeal (COA), created history with his findings after a lengthy trial that Najib had abused his power as the then prime minister and finance minister to misappropriate RM42 million of SRC International’s funds.

He subsequently sentenced the accused to 12 years in jail in 2020, and also imposed a RM210 million fine after finding Najib guilty of all seven counts of defrauding SRC International.

Nazlan’s airtight judgment on the findings — based on prosecution witnesses’ testimony, lengthy cross-examinations, and submissions from the defence team comprising top-notch criminal lawyers — remained intact when appeals by the convicted were filed at the COA and the Federal Court.

The COA upheld Nazlan’s decision in 2021 and the Federal Court did the same in August last year.

Last Friday, a separate Federal Court bench rejected Najib’s judicial review of the case by a
4-1 majority.

Despite numerous attempts to poke holes in Nazlan’s findings, every single one of the judges right up to the apex court — bar one — concurred with his findings on Najib’s guilt.

The score, as it stands now, is 13 -1.

That’s right — 13 judges (one high court, three Court of Appeal, five Federal Court and another four Federal Court) found no reason whatsoever to disturb Nazlan’s findings.

However, the conspiracy theorists would rather — albeit conveniently — forget this fact and instead focus on the findings of the one judge who held a dissenting view and was of the opinion that Najib should be outrightly set free.

To summarise his arguments, the dissenting judge had, among other things, concluded that Najib should be released as the latter was denied a fair trial.

This, the judge said, was essentially because Najib’s lawyer — who came to court unprepared — was denied the opportunity to adjourn the hearing.

Back to the attacks on Nazlan, it is timely to recap how he had come under fire immediately after convicting Najib in July 2020.

The mudslinging has been non-stop.

He was first accused of receiving RM1,036,127.40 (yes, even the 40 sen was mentioned) as part of a RM2 million payment to him by fugitive financier Low Taek Jho @ Jho Low for “services rendered”.

Police and MACC reports about this so-called payment were made and Nazlan was accused of bias for his undeclared conflict of interest during his time as group general counsel and company secretary of Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank).

However, nothing came of the reports and the brouhaha surrounding the so-called payment eventually died off.

As much as those taking pot shots at Nazlan want to ignore it, the issues surrounding his undeclared conflict of interest were also dealt with in detail at the apex courts.

At the Federal Court, the panel unanimously found that the argument about Nazlan’s conflict of interest was a non-starter, as even the defence had conceded that they knew — even before the commencement of the SRC trial — of Nazlan’s position as general counsel and group secretary of the Maybank group before his elevation to the bench.

To quote the Federal Court panel, the judges stated in paragraphs 30 and 38 of the broad grounds of judgment the following:

“It is not as if Justice Nazlan’s previous employment with the Maybank Group of Companies was a secret to any party such that his subsequent involvement with them came as a surprise.

“We are not in any way convinced that the proposed evidence establishes anything to the effect that Justice Nazlan’s findings were in any way mired by any discreet or undisclosed personal interest on his part on the establishment of SRC International and its subsequent operation such as to render him a conflicted or biased judge.

“Nor do we find anything in that Justice Nazlan had any particular knowledge or was inspired by any extraneous considerations gained from his previous employment with Maybank to sustain any of his factual or legal findings in respect of the seven charges against the applicant.”

The panel was also unanimous in stating that any contention on Nazlan’s conflict of interest and biasness was a non-starter and untenable.

It is ironic that the conspiracy theorists are now reigniting issues surrounding the alleged non-disclosure argument by bringing up the MACC letter when the judiciary itself had conclusively ruled on it.

A lead defence lawyer in the SRC trial once said at the appeal hearing that the charges against his client had been turned into a “complete dalcha”.

However, it looks like the conspiracy theorists are unlikely to stop stirring the ‘SRC dalcha’.

Instead, they would rather continue flogging a dead horse by endlessly bringing up Nazlan’s alleged biasness despite knowing it has been addressed by the judiciary at the apex courts.