The lead counsel for Najib Razak said he was disappointed by the remarks by one of the judges who rejected the former prime minister’s appeal today describing the RM42 million transfers from SRC International as a “national embarrassment”.
Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said the remark would affect the perception of his client.
“I think it was unnecessary, and that it could cause some serious elements of perception on Najib, considering that the entire conviction and sentence has been stayed.
“That is something very disappointing,” he said, hours after Najib lost his appeal to overturn his conviction for seven charges of power abuse, criminal breach of trust and money laundering related to the transfer of RM42 million from SRC International to his private bank accounts.
Delivering the judgment today, Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, one of the three appeals court judges who unanimously maintained the High Court’s verdict on Najib, referred to a defence argument during the trial which said that loans totalling RM4 billion from the government’s Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) to SRC International, from which the RM42 million to Najib originated, were approved in the name of national interest.
“There was no national interest when RM42 million was transferred into Najib’s accounts, only national embarrassment,” Karim said as he read out the judgment brief today.
Shafee said since the defence’s argument about national interest was already rejected and not pursued, the remark was unnecessary.
Shafee said there were several “errors” committed by High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali in convicting Najib.
He said they include the panel judges’ finding that instructions for the transfer of funds out of SRC International had valid signatures, despite the defence claiming they were forged.
“Of course the Court of Appeal, being an appellant court, is entitled to make a judgment no matter what. As you can appreciate, when a court of law made a binding decision, no matter how wrong… we have to accept, no matter how difficult it is, we have to swallow humble pie,” said Shafee.
The court in its summary judgment today said signatures whether in hard copy or digital form, or scanned or photocopied, were acceptable in banking practice, as long as the signatories agree to the transfer using their sample signatures.
Shafee also questioned the court’s dismissal of Najib’s claim that the money in his accounts was a donation from the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
Najib’s defence had tendered four letters purportedly written by one “Prince Saud Abdulaziz Al Saud” on behalf of King Abdullah, showing that the former prime minister was promised donations from Saudi Arabia.
But judge Nazlan had dismissed the claim, saying it was a “weak fabrication” by the defence, and listing 10 problems with the letters tendered.
“We too found this Arab donation defence untenable,” the appeals court said today.