Tuesday 16 Jul 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (June 14): There appears to be growing opposition to Datuk Seri Najib Razak's application to have Queen's Counsel (QC) Jonathan Laidlaw represent him in his final SRC International Sdn Bhd appeal at the Federal Court here.

The Malaysian Bar, which represents over 20,000 lawyers in the country, has indicated that they would object to Laidlaw's admission to practise here and represent the former premier, who is also the member of parliament (MP) for Pekan.

Bar president Karen Cheah Yee Lynn, when contacted by theedgemarkets.com, confirmed that it has engaged senior counsel Datuk Bastian Vendargon to represent the Bar in the matter at the High Court.

"Yes, we have given instructions to object to the application," she replied via text message.

Case management to hear Laidlaw's application for admission has been fixed for Thursday (June 16) by the High Court.

On Monday, the prosecution in Najib's SRC case also indicated they would object to Laidlaw's admission to the case, citing the QC's inability or lack of qualifications under Subsection 11(2) of the Legal Profession Act 1976 (Act 166), which included his not being able to speak Bahasa Malaysia.

In the affidavit by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Mohd Ashrof Adrin Kamarul, the DPP said while the case could be novel in nature, it is not difficult and hence questioned the need for Laidlaw.

"The applicant (Laidlaw) does not possess the experience to conduct criminal trials or criminal appeals in relation to Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act (MACCA 2009), Section 409 of the Penal Code, or Section 4 of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act (AMLA) before the Malaysian courts.

"The applicant is not well versed with the laws involved in the pending appeals, nor has any experience in the Malaysian legal system," Mohd Ashrof added.

Section 23 of MACCA 2009 involves the charge of abuse of power, Section 409 of the Penal Code deals with criminal breach of trust (CBT), while Section 4 of the ALMA deals with money laundering.

The prosecution further argued that the applicant has not shown any special expertise and experience relevant to Najib's appeal, as required under Section 18(1) of the Legal Profession Act, which stipulates admission to practise law for a person who has special expertise.

The prosecution's affidavit also stated that the Malaysian courts have not allowed for an ad hoc admission in criminal cases since 1971.

Najib was found guilty of abusing his power involving a loan of RM4 billion from the Retirement Fund Inc between August 2011 and March 2012 to SRC. For this, he was sentenced to 12 years in jail and fined RM210 million in default of five more years of imprisonment.

He was also convicted of three counts each of CBT and money laundering involving RM42 million of SRC funds that were deposited into his accounts between Dec 26, 2014 and Feb 10, 2015. For each of these six offences, the Pekan MP and former UMNO president was sentenced to 10 years in jail.

As the court ordered the jail sentences to run concurrently, Najib would spend 12 years in jail.

He is appealing his conviction and sentences at the Federal Court after the Court of Appeal unanimously upheld the High Court's verdict on Dec 8 last year, but allowed a stay of sentencing pending his final appeal.

In applying to have Laidlaw represent Najib last May 31, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah who affirmed an affidavit in support of the application said the QC specialises in financial crimes and has consistently been ranked in the UK legal directory as one of their "star silks".

The Federal Court has fixed Aug 15 to 26 to hear Najib's final appeal and directed that written submissions be tendered by July 31.

Edited ByTan Choe Choe
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