Saturday, May 15, 2021

Najib didn’t know RM42 million was from SRC, lawyer tells appeals court

His lawyer says the former prime minister believed that the funds were the remainder of donations from the Saudi royal family.

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The Court of Appeal today heard that Najib Razak did not know the money in his bank accounts was transferred from SRC International Sdn Bhd as the former prime minister had believed that the funds in his AmBank accounts were the remainder of donations from the Saudi royal family.

Najib’s counsel Harvinderjit Singh said this before justice Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, who presided over the appeal with Has Zanah Mehat and Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera.

“Some RM164 million was transferred into his new accounts after an old account that was used to receive donations was closed in August 2013. Najib believed the money was a contribution from the Saudi king.

“The trial judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali stated that Najib must have known of the RM42 million deposited into his accounts from SRC International. With respect, this was an error of law,” Harvinderjit said.

“The trial judge in equating post-transfer ‘knowledge’ with ‘dishonesty’ fell into error. The mens rea element of ‘dishonesty’ for criminal breach of trust (CBT) is based on ‘intention’ and not ‘knowledge’,” he added in his submission.

Harvinderjit also said fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low was the one who had transferred money from SRC International into Najib’s accounts without Najib’s knowledge.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court on July 28 last year sentenced Najib to 12 years’ jail and fined him RM210 million after finding him guilty on seven charges of CBT, money laundering and abuse of position involving RM42 million in SRC International funds.

Harvinderjit said the prosecution at the close of its case only showed that Low had been meddling in Najib’s accounts.

Here, Karim asked why Low, who had no authority, was concerned about Najib’s accounts.

Harvinderjit replied that since 2011, money had come from the Arab royalty as donations and Low through a non-diplomatic channel in 2010 had arranged for a meeting with the king and Najib.

“The monarch expressed his support for Najib to remain in power so that Malaysia would not fall into the hands of extremist elements.

“The king had said he would support Najib though he (the king) did not say it would come in the form of donations,” Harvinderjit said, adding that several months later it was Low who had said the king would give donations.

Harvinderjit said Najib then opened current and savings accounts in AmBank as he was expecting up to US$200 million in donations from Saudi Arabia.

Previously, AmBank Raja Chulan branch manager R Uma Devi testified that based on bank records between 2011 and 2013, millions in US dollars were remitted into Najib’s accounts.

It was revealed that RM304 million was deposited into an account in 2011, RM756 million in 2012 and RM1.9 billion in 2013.

Harvinderjit said on Aug 23, 2014, Najib returned RM2.034 billion (US$620 million) and the balance of RM164 million was transferred into his new account.

The hearing of the appeal continues.

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