PUTRAJAYA (Aug 23): Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will serve his 12-year jail sentence and pay his RM210 million fine from Tuesday (Aug 23).
This follows a five-member Federal Court bench led by Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat dismissing the Pekan MP's final appeal against his SRC International Sdn Bhd conviction.
She said the SRC case was a straightforward one involving abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering.
The CJ said Najib's defence based on the 94 grounds of appeal can be summarised into two points, namely that the High Court judge was wrong to call a prima facie case, and that the Court of Appeal had erred in fact and law when finding that the trial judge had correctly appreciated the defence, as the defence had managed to raise reasonable doubt to all seven charges.
She added that the findings of the High Court judge are sound, while the Court of Appeal's decision to uphold the lower court's guilty verdict was also correct.
“The High Court judge undertook a very detailed and objective analysis of the evidence to support his findings at the close of the prosecution's case. In the circumstances, we fail to see how and where any of the learned trial judge’s findings — leading to the ultimate finding that a prima facie case had been made out — are perverse,” she said, adding that Najib was rightly ordered to enter his defence.
"In appeals, the appellate court should be slow to interfere in judgements made by the lower court.
She said Najib had shown how his defence was inconsistent, incoherent and unworthy of belief, as submitted by the prosecution.
Najib, she said, did not dispute the RM42 million entering into his personal accounts, but merely denied knowledge of it.
However, Najib also said he was framed in conspiracy hatched by fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho (Jho Low), the late Datuk Azlin Alias (Najib's former principal private secretary), former SRC managing director Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, and the bankers.
“Najib also maintained the defence that the monies credited into his personal AmIslamic Bank accounts, i.e. Accounts 880 and 906, which are the subject of the last six charges, were received as Arab donations from Saudi Arabia.
"The prosecution contended that they had maintained in the trial that these defences are completely inconsistent and diametrically opposed to one another.”
She said that it is the finding of the apex court that the findings of the High Court on the defence are correct.
“In concluding that the defence failed to raise a reasonable doubt on the prosecution's case, we find that the learned High Court judge (Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, who has now been elevated to the Court of Appeal) had undertaken a thorough analysis of the evidence produced by the defence.
“Thus, we are unable to conclude that any of the findings of the High Court, as affirmed by the Court of Appeal, are perverse or plainly wrong so as to warrant appellate intervention. We agree that the defence is so inherently inconsistent and incredible that it does not raise a reasonable doubt on the prosecution's case,” the CJ said.
"We (the bench) found that the appellant's appeal with regard to the 94 grounds tendered is devoid of merits," she said.
The other members of the bench were Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim and Federal Court judges Datuk Nallini Pathmanathan, Datuk Mary Lim Thiam Suan and Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah.
Following the decision, Tengku Maimun ordered for a warrant of commital to be issued, and said that the sentence imposed — 12 years' jail and a RM210 million fine — is not manifestly excessive.
Najib was found guilty on July 28, 2020, of all seven charges — one count of abuse of power with regard to the Retirement Fund Inc's (KWAP) RM4 billion loan to SRC and three counts each of criminal breach of trust and abuse of power with regard to RM42 million of SRC’s funds.
For the grounds of judgement for Najib’s SRC final appeal, click here.