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Prosecution says Najib's 'lame excuses' for not recovering frozen SRC funds shows personal interest

PUTRAJAYA (April 14): The prosecution told the Court of Appeal that former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak's (pictured) “lame excuses” for not wanting anyone to retrieve the frozen SRC International Sdn Bhd funds in Switzerland, shows he has a direct and personal interest in the matter.

Ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram said Najib was evasive when asked about his plans to bring back RM3.6 billion that had been frozen by the Swiss authorities in 2013, during his cross-examination.

He said until today, the status of the funds stashed in Switzerland that were taken from the RM4 billion Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) loans to SRC is unknown.

Sithambaram added that it was as if Najib wanted the money to be left there – but it is unclear for whom.

Last week, Najib’s defence counsel Harvinderjit Singh also said that “no one knows” what happened to the Swiss funds.

The ad hoc prosecutor said the issuance of the government guarantees (GGs) – which were deliberated upon and approved in two Cabinet meetings attended by Najib, and extension of the KWAP loans which were made hastily, demonstrates the former premier’s overarching influence, in the words of trial judge Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, and involvement since SRC’s inception.

“The prosecution says that his [Najib's] involvement in the two GGs [government guarantees] showed his utter control of the KWAP and the Finance Ministry and shows our contention of Section 23 (4) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act for abuse of power. Najib could have chosen to leave the meeting when the GG was discussed in Cabinet and delegate it to the Second Finance Minister [Datuk Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah] but he chose to remain there,” he said.

This also showed his direct interests in SRC, Sithambaram added.

Furthermore, he said Ahmad Husni had also testified that anything in relation to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and SRC was to be dealt with by Najib; in fact, he was told not to be involved in the affairs of 1MDB and its subsidiaries.

“This is despite the fact that Ahmad Husni as the Second Finance Minister and was supposed to overlook the affairs of Minister of Finance Inc, [namely government-linked companies] that comes under his purview,” the lawyer said.

Najib stopped Ahmad Husni from going to Switzerland to retrieve money, says prosecutors

Sithambaram showed the three-member bench led by Justice Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, the High Court transcript of his cross-examination of Najib, where he prevented Ahmad Husni from helping to retrieve the frozen money.

He said in 2015, the Second Finance Minister had offered to Najib to go to Switzerland to try and recover the money, as he had acquaintances there who may help, after SRC’s board were informed that the money was still in the bank.

Sithambaram added that no one from the defence or prosecution are disputing that the funds was frozen.

During the cross-examination, Najib had said Ahmad Husni was barred from going to Switzerland because he did not have a proper plan.

“When I asked him if he (Najib) himself had a proper plan, the reply was no. He said he would leave it to the SRC board of directors. However, when told that he played a role in getting the KWAP loan, and giving the GG and that [he was] the Finance Minister, and Ahmad Husni wanted to help, the PM reiterated that he and the Cabinet wanted to see the Second Finance Minister's plan.”

“It is as if the excuse of ‘having the plan’ is being used as a mantra for his answers. The prosecution says that Najib's evasiveness and lame excuses of wanting to see Ahmad Husni's plan, and till today after his government’s fall in 2018, nothing has been done to bring the money back, shows that he has personal interests in SRC's set up and not wanting to see the funds return,” he said.

Najib had a role in SRC

Sithambaram argued that the fact that SRC was given RM4 billion loans despite being a RM2 company with no track record, showed Najib’s influence.

When Justice Abdul Karim asked how does the former premier control SRC's direction, Sithambaram replied that Najib was the approving authority, in which he appointed who could sit on its board, despite not being a board member himself.

“I am not saying he is part of the company but he has a role there, to oversee things being done,” he said.

“The prosecution submits that Najib's actions had caused the Finance Ministry to fail in its task to supervise SRC, and as shown, he had allowed for SRC to report directly to him by controlling the board and thus reducing the supervisory powers of Ministry of Finance Inc over SRC. This was the main reason SRC was able to deflect any form of control or supervision from the Finance Ministry.”

The other two judges with Justice Abdul Karim were Justice Datuk Has Zanah Mehat and Justice Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera.

The hearing of Najib's appeal continues tomorrow with the prosecution resuming its case.

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