RM1.69 billion tax suit against Najib could be country’s biggest, says lawyer

Former prime minister Najib Razak.

PETALING JAYA: The civil suit filed against former prime minister Najib Razak by the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) to recover RM1.69 billion in additional taxes is probably the largest imposed against an individual in the country, a lawyer says.

“These arrears in tax against an individual are very likely the largest, although companies have also been asked to pay to the tune of billions,” said tax and customs law practitioner S Saravana Kumar.

LHDN filed the suit on June 25, asking Najib to pay RM1,692,872,924.83 allegedly owed between 2011 and 2017.

Saravana said the legal position on taxation in Malaysia is that all due amounts must be settled before a person files an appeal.

“If Najib fails to lodge an appeal against these assessments, the taxes become final and conclusive within 30 days,” he added.

He said it was unclear from news reports whether Najib had filed an appeal to the Special Commissioners of Income Tax or commenced judicial review proceedings.

He said an individual involved in a lawsuit can file a stay of proceedings against the enforcement of the disputed assets if a judicial review has been filed.

He noted however that an appeal would not stop LHDN from commencing civil proceedings against a taxpayer who has not settled his or her taxes. This is provided for under Sections 103 and 106 of the Income Tax Act 1967, he said.

Case management for the lawsuit against Najib has been fixed for July 25.

It is learnt that the writ of summons was served on Najib as the sole defendant on July 4.

The suit was initiated after Najib failed to act on LHDN’s initial demand in March for additional tax assessments of RM1.47 billion.

This resulted in a 10% hike of RM147 million in April and another compounded 5% hike of RM80 million in May.

The 10% increase was imposed under Section 103 of the Income Tax Act after Najib failed to pay the initial RM1.47 billion within 30 days of the date the assessment notice was issued.

The former prime minister also failed to settle the renewed sum within 60 days under the same provision, which resulted in the compounded 5% hike.