Sunday, June 20, 2021

‘Arab donation’ a scam, prosecution says in Najib’s SRC appeal

Ad hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram asks why the money was returned to a company if it was from the Saudi king.

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Ad hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram today told the Court of Appeal that Najib Razak’s act of returning a portion of the “Arab donation” to an alleged sender without any explanation or a thank-you letter showed that the so-called donation was a scam.

He also questioned its return to a company called Tanore Finance Corp if it was indeed from the late King Abdullah Abdulaziz Al Saud.

“The king never asked for the money back. In fact, the appellant (Najib) said the money was donated by the Saudi king to ensure Malaysia can become a model of a stable and modern Islamic country.

“It is absolutely bizarre for Najib to return a contribution of RM2.6 billion (US$620 million) from the king to a company.

“This was a desperate attempt to bolster the defence case. Najib, in his evidence, testified that it was fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho who asked him to remit the money to Tanore,” he said.

Sithambaram said Najib had testified that there would be political connotations if the money remained in his personal accounts in Ambank.

“There was no evidence that the king gave this money. It’s a desperate defence.

“If I gave you a donation and you sent it back, I would take it as an insult because I gave you the donation for a good cause.

“(You said it was returned) but the money was transferred to Tanore. I don’t know what the king has to do with the company,” he said, adding that even the Cabinet had not known about the donation.

Sithambaram also said scrutiny of Najib’s evidence showed that there were doubts over whether the purported meeting with the king had actually taken place and whether the monarch had promised him financial support.

“Najib merely stated that the king had promised support but explained he was only informed by Low in the middle of 2010 that the monarch had agreed to provide financial support,” he said.

Sithambaram submitted this before a three-member bench led by judge Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil in the hearing of Najib’s appeal against his conviction and jail sentence for the misappropriation of RM42 million in SRC International funds.

The other two judges on the bench were Has Zanah Mehat and Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera.

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 criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of position involving RM42 million in SRC International funds.

The hearing of the appeal continues.

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