Cool it, judge tells lawyers in Najib corruption trial

Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali told counsel from both sides to avoid using descriptions like ‘pedantic’ and ‘pathetic’. (gov.my pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: The judge presiding over Najib Razak’s corruption trial today urged counsel from both sides to be more careful in their choice of words when engaged in heated arguments.

“Please avoid using those type of descriptions,” Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali said after ad hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram and lawyer Harvinderjit Singh were locked in a war words when Harvinder was cross-examining former Ambank relationship manager Joanna Yu Ging Ping.

Harvinder had uttered the word “pedantic” against Sithambaram while the senior lawyer, who is prosecuting the case after getting a licence from the public prosecutor, retorted with the word “pathetic”.

Harvinderjit was questioning Yu, the 54th prosecution witness, on the transfer of money to one of Najib’s current accounts when the verbal spat took place.

The lawyer also suggested that Yu received documents on the money transfer from fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low.

However, she attempted to clarify that she received the documents from former SRC International Sdn Bhd CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil.

But Harvinderjit cut her off, denying her further explanation.

Sithambaram, who was seated, said this was the kind of question Yu needed to answer and uttered that Harvinderjit was being “pathetic”.

Harvinder: What did you say?

Sithambaram: (who stood up) You are being pathetic.

Harvinderjit: You are pedantic.

Nazlan then told both of them to stop using such descriptive words.

Earlier, deputy public prosecutor Budiman Lutfi Mohamed also rose and protested to Nazlan that Harvinderjit should be more “gentle” in conducting his cross-examination on the witness.

Yu admitted to Harvinder that she was forced to leave Ambank in late 2015 but she did not offer any reason.

The lawyer also did not pursue the matter.

In a witness statement, Yu said she joined the bank, then known as Arab Malaysian Merchant Bank, in February 1995 and her last position was executive vice-president of the Wholesale Banking Coverage division.

She said she only read in the media that Bank Negara Malaysia fined Ambank for breaching the Financial Services Act 2013 in November 2015.

Media reports stated the bank paid RM53.7 million for its failure to report  suspicious transactions by one of its clients to the central bank .

Najib is facing six charges of money laundering and criminal breach of trust in the transfer of RM42 million to his account from SRC International, a former unit of 1MDB.

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

The Pekan MP is said to have committed the offences at AmIslamic Bank Bhd on Jalan Raja Chulan and at the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya between Aug 17, 2011 and Feb 10, 2015.

The hearing continues.