Don’t convict Najib based on public opinion, says defence in SRC trial

Former prime minister Najib Razak.

KUALA LUMPUR: The defence in Najib Razak’s SRC International case today urged the High Court not to convict the former prime minister based on the “court of public opinion”.

Lawyer Farhan Read acknowledged the gravity of the charges against Najib, who is accused of pocketing RM42 million from public funds.

“We don’t blame the public for being angry. But the court today should not be influenced by opinion. It should decide based on law and facts,” he said in his closing submissions.

Farhan earlier said that Najib was only acting to fulfil the national energy policy when he gave approval for the company to obtain government guarantees to secure a RM2 billion loan.

The lawyer said Najib was informed by then-1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi and SRC International CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil of plans for SRC International to materialise the government policy.

SRC International was a subsidiary of 1MDB before it was transferred to the Minister of Finance (MoF) Incorporated.

“It would be exceedingly naive to equate mere enthusiasm with corrupt practice,” Farhan said, adding that Najib’s enthusiasm was backed by the recommendations of the Economic Planning Unit.

Farhan also told the court that Najib had had no intention of instructing then-Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP) CEO Azian Mohd Noh to approve the loan for SRC International.

“Azian was an ex-officio member of KWAP’s investment panel and she has no power to decide whether to grant loans to SRC International or otherwise.

“The decision lay with panel members,” he added.

Previously, Azian testified that Najib had influenced the pension fund’s board in its decisions, adding that Najib was her “ultimate boss”.

Azian also said KWAP had granted the first RM2 billion loan application to SRC International in 2011 and another RM2 billion in 2012.

Farhan said Najib met former Treasury secretary-general Wan Abdul Aziz Wan Abdullah on another occasion after he was told that KWAP decided to offer only RM1 billion instead of the RM3.95 billion SRC International had asked for.

“He (Najib) testified that his meeting with Wan Aziz was entirely reasonable and in line with proper administration.

“As the prime minister, he was fully entitled to back the government’s initiatives, and he was entitled to expect the subordinates to notify him of any objections raised,” he added.

Farhan also said Najib was not aware that KWAP had granted another RM2 billion loan to SRC International until he met Azian, Wan Aziz and then-deputy secretary-general of the Treasury Irwan Serigar Abdullah.

“There was a prior discussion between them on the second loan,” he added.

The hearing continues before High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.

Najib is accused of abusing his power as prime minister in approving government guarantees for KWAP to loan RM4 billion to SRC International.

He was also slapped with criminal breach of trust and money laundering charges over the transfer of RM42 million, allegedly from SRC International funds, into his bank accounts.

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