KUALA LUMPUR: Without further ado, the prosecution led by Attorney-General Tommy Thomas will commence its case against Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak over SRC International Sdn Bhd funds on Wednesday, with the first three witnesses set to testify.
The trial was set following the decision by the Federal Court to lift the stay of proceedings order granted by the Court of Appeal to Najib, which he filed on Feb 8, to temporarily stall the trial pending disposal of his appeals over his interlocutory matters.
Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, who led the Federal Court seven-man panel, said the Court of Appeal did not have the jurisdiction to do so and hence, ordered the High Court to set the trial date.
The trial of the SRC case was initially slated to be held from Feb 12 to March 29 but was put on hold twice after the Court of Appeal on Feb 11 and March 21 granted a stay of proceedings pending related appeals.
According to sources from the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), the prosecution will start the case with an opening statement by Thomas.
“After that, the first witness would be called to testify. We have on standby three witnesses, but it depends on how the trial goes on that day. We have also prepared witness statements and after the witnesses read out their statements, the defence would cross-examine them,” the sources said when asked on the proceedings during the trial.
According to the sources, the three witnesses comprised government officers and bankers who were subpoenaed by the prosecution team last Friday.
“The prosecution prepared more than 60 witnesses to take the stand in this trial,” the sources said.
Najib, 66, the sixth prime minister of Malaysia, is the first (prime minister) to find himself in the dock of a court.
On July 4, 2018, Najib, who is Pekan MP, was charged at the sessions court with three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT) and one count of abuse of power in connection with SRC International Sdn Bhd funds, totalling RM42 million.
On the first count, Najib was accused of, as a public servant and agent, namely the Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Malaysia, Advisor Emeritus of SRC International Sdn Bhd (SRC) and in those capacities entrusted with control of funds belonging to SRC International totalling RM4 billion, having committed CBT involving a sum of RM27 million.
He was alleged to have committed the offence at AmIslamic Bank Berhad, Ambank Group Building, No 55, Jalan Raja Chulan, here, between Dec 24, 2014, and Dec 29, 2014, and charged under Section 409 of the Penal Code, which provides for a maximum jail term of up to 20 years and whipping and also a fine, if convicted.
On the second count, Najib was charged with, as the Prime Minister and Finance Minister with control over SRC funds totalling RM4 billion, committing CBT involving RM5 million at the same place and during the same time frame.
On the third count, Najib was charged with, being the Prime Minister and Finance Minister entrusted with SRC-owned funds of RM4 billion, committing CBT involving RM10 million at the same place between Feb 10, 2015, and March 2, 2015, according to the same section of the Penal Code.
On the fourth count, Najib was charged with, being a public official, namely the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Malaysia, using his position to commit bribery involving RM42 million when he participated or was involved in a decision on behalf of the Malaysian government to provide government guarantees for loans from the Retirement Fund Incorporated to SRC International amounting to RM4 billion.
He is alleged to have committed the crime at the Prime Minister’s Office, Precinct 1, Putrajaya, Federal Territory of Putrajaya, between Aug 17, 2011, and Feb 8, 2012.
The charge, framed under Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 and punishable under Section 24 of the same Act, provides for a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the amount or value of the bribe or RM10,000, whichever is higher, if convicted.
On Aug 8, 2018, the former prime minister pleaded not guilty to three charges of having received the same money of RM42 million in proceeds from unlawful activities into two of his accounts four years ago, belonging to SRC International Sdn Bhd.
On the three charges, Najib is alleged to have received RM27 million, RM5 million and RM10 million, respectively, which were proceeds from unlawful activities, via Real Time Electronic Transfer of Funds and Securities (Rentas) into two AmIslamic Bank Berhad accounts of his, bearing the numbers 2112022011880 and 2112022011906.
He is alleged to have committed the offences at AmIslamic Bank Berhad, AmBank Group Building, No. 55, Jalan Raja Chulan, here, between Dec 26, 2014, and Feb 10, 2015.
The charges were filed under Section 4(1)(b) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act (AMLATFPUAA) 2001 which provides for the penalty under Section 4(1) of the same act.
The trial will be held before Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.
Besides Thomas, the prosecution team also consists of deputy public prosecutors Datuk Sulaiman Abdullah, Datuk V. Sithambaran, Datuk Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria, Manoj Kurup, Budiman Lutfi Mohamed and Muhammad Izzat Fauzan.
Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah led the defence team, assisted by lawyers Harvinderjit Singh, Muhammad Farhan Muhammad Shafee, Rahmat Hazlan and Syahirah Hanapiah. — Bernama