Top criminal lawyer appointed ad-hoc prosecutor in Najib’s SRC case

PETALING JAYA: Penang-based lawyer V Sithambaram has been roped in to appear along with counsel Sulaiman Abdullah to prosecute Najib Razak, who is facing a slew of charges in relation to SRC International, sources said.

Sithambaram is best remembered for representing engineer Hanif Basree Abdul Rahman and getting his client acquitted in the murder case of part-time guest relations officer Noritta Samsudin in Kuala Lumpur in 2004.

Lawyer V Sithambaram.

A source said Sithambaram, who is also co-chairman of the Bar Council criminal law committee, received his appointment letter from Attorney-General Tommy Thomas last week, along with a briefing on the case.

“However, he is likely to make his maiden appearance on Thursday when the Court of Appeal hears three appeals by the former prime minister over interlocutory matters in relation to his criminal charges on SRC International,” a source told FMT.

The three appeals are related to Najib’s application for a gag order to prohibit the media from discussing the merits of his case, his application for the discovery of documents and statements, and over his challenge to the appointment of Sulaiman as the prosecutor.

On Aug 31, Thomas announced the appointment of Sulaiman and retired Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram as ad-hoc prosecutors to handle SRC and 1MDB cases.

Najib is facing charges for offences linked to money laundering and criminal breach of trust in the transfer of RM42 million into his account from former 1MDB unit SRC International.

He was also accused of abusing his power as the prime minister by giving government guarantees on SRC International’s RM4 billion loan from the Retirement Fund Inc.

A further 25 charges were made against him in September in connection with the alleged transfer of RM2.28 billion 1MDB-related funds into his bank account before the 2013 general election.

The trial is scheduled to begin on Feb 12.