FORMER prime minister Najib Razak has been sentenced by the Kuala Lumpur High Court to 12 years’ prison and fined RM210 mil.
This is after Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali found Najib guilty of all seven charges, which include one for abuse of power involving the Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) RM4 bil loans to SRC International Sdn Bhd, three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT) involving RM42 mil and three counts of money laundering.
The judge ruled that the defence has successfully demonstrated special circumstances for a stay of execution on both the jail terms and fine.
However, the bail needed to be raised by RM1 mil with two sureties. Najib will also have to report to the nearest police station on the 1st and 15th of every month. He has until tomorrow to pay the RM1 mil.
Mohd Nazlan in his sentencing cited the importance of public interest and enforcement to deter offenders.
The accused held a position of trust, he said. Nazlan said the 12 years’ jail and RM210 mil fine is for abuse of power, while the three CBT charges carry a sentence of 10 years in jail each. Meanwhile, the money laundering charges carry a 10-year prison sentence each.
“The sentences are to run concurrently,” he said.
If Najib failed to pay the fine of RM210 mil, he can be subject to five years’ prison.
Earlier, Nazlan said the prosecution has successfully proven its case beyond reasonable doubt and the defence failed to raise reasonable doubt on all seven charges.
He said the prosecution had fulfilled the requirement under Section 4 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act.
No to stay of mitigation
During mitigation, lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said the team will be appealing the decision and the sentence.
He also requested for reasonable time to be given to the defence for mitigation on Monday.
“The whole country is under lockdown. My client is not going anywhere.”
He indicated several witnesses can be called during mitigation.
Ad hoc deputy public prosecutor V. Sithambaram countered that the defence does not need the court recordings as the judgment is read in open court.
“I am concerned about keeping mitigation on Monday. You cannot stay the conviction as it must be made after the sentence.
“The prosecution would be prejudiced.”
Despite Shafee’s submission to stay the mitigation, Nazlan ruled that the court was not granting a stay.
Nazlan ordered the mitigation be heard now.
Shafee then started with Najib’s education, political background and government posts.
Seated at the dock, Najib looked dejected.
Shafee said Najib had given his cooperation during MACC and police investigations.
He added Najib felt like a casualty of political victimisation.
“My client has undergone punishment after being charged in four courts, hounded by the tax department with taxable income of RM1.69 billion on an individual.
“This is preposterous and unbelievable, like a cow can jump over the moon.”
After Shafee had finished, co-counsel Harvinderjit Singh began his submission.
Sithambaram in his submission said the former PM “has a fiduciary duty and this conviction shows that. The sentence should serve as a precedent for all in public office that no one is above the law”.
“In CBT, abuse of power and money laundering, the court should give the proper punishment.
“This case has tarnished the country’s image as a kleptocracy and no Malaysians deserved that.”
He added that politicians are the people’s trustees and should act in the people’s best interest.
Nazlan’s judgment said Najib had played a pivotal role in the establishment of SRC International and that the RM4 bil in loans from KWAP to the entity was rushed.
Nazlan said Najib’s defence blaming fugitive businessman Jho Low was not valid.
“The defence’s evidence did not diminish but enhance the perception of the accused’s overarching influence with Jho Low, (former 1MDB CEO) Nik Faisal (Ariff Kamil) and (former 1MDB executive director of finance) Terence Geh.”
He said Najib as the then PM had Jho Low serving him.
He added Najib did not “take the logical step to return the RM42 million” as it was his duty to do so as a shareholder of Minister of Finance Inc, which controlled SRC International.
He said the defence had argued that the element of CBT was committed by others.
“My assessment is that the blaming of others does not absolve the CBT charges against the accused.”
No evidence of donation
Meanwhile, on the cheques Najib had issued, Nazlan said it was the former PM’s responsibility for his personal bank accounts and was illogical for Najib to deny knowledge of the account balance.
He also said the defence’s argument that Najib received money from the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud cannot be sustained because there is no evidence that Najib attempted to verify the donation or the purpose of it.
“I find that the failure of the accused to ensure official confirmation that the donation was officially from King Abdullah to be improbable.”
The judge said the late Saudi king also did not articulate support or donation to Malaysia when a Malaysian delegation, which included Jamil Khir Baharom, visited King Abdullah.
“There were no details of the donation… was it a loan or what… for the purpose of security.
“Strangely, for the remittance supposedly from King Abdullah, the accused did not do anything for CSR (corporate social responsibility) activities.
“Political parties, including Umno and BN, were the recipients.”
The judge said the expenditure of jewellery, which was a mind-blowing sum, was supposed to be used for CSR purposes.
The court’s decision comes just days after Malaysia reached a US$3.9 bil deal with US investment bank Goldman Sachs over its role in helping 1MDB raise money.
This is the first of several trials he faces over a multi-billion ringgit graft scandal at 1MDB, the state fund he founded.
This morning scores of Najib supporters had already turned up outside the court complex, wearing “Bossku” t-shirts and shouting slogans.
Allegations of corruption over 1MDB have hung over Najib for more than five years.
But the criminal charges came only after his defeat in the 2018 election when his successor Dr Mahathir Mohamad reopened investigations. – July 28, 2020