Former Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s corruption trial relating to the 1MDB scandal ended on Friday, 5 June 2020. In their closing statement, Najib’s lawyers told the High Court that the former PM was a victim of a scam by Jho Low, as reported by Strait Times. The judge has set 28 July as the date for a verdict.
Najib’s defence team, led by lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said his client’s case has become complicated because of Najib’s high profile and prejudice surrounding the case.
“It has become complicated for us to produce the best defence because Datuk Seri Najib is a victim of a scam, and misrepresentation by Jho Low and (former chief executive officer of SRC International) Nik Faisal,” Shafee told the Kuala Lumpur High Court.
Shafee, who is on trial for money-laundering and tax evasion himself, further said that, “It is extremely cumbersome and a difficult defence because our client was surrounded by the people, who committed the scam, where Najib himself is a victim.”
Both Jho Low and Nik Faisal, former CEO of SRC International are still at large.
He said the case became complicated because of all the personalities involved. Shafee said because it was Najib, there is a lot of prejudice thrown in, like what the prosecutors said that Najib, being a man of knowledge, a man of finance, should be aware of the money coming into his bank accounts.
Shafee also said the prosecution had been pushing its case in the context that a powerful man could not be unaware of his bank transactions.
“It is very easy for anyone, perhaps even the court, to be so fortified in this belief that the circumstances surrounding Najib would deprive him of the defence that would otherwise be available to a commoner,” he said.
Shafee also cited a judgement by the late Justice Tun Mohamed Suffian Mohamed Hashim in a criminal case as an example of how a court makes a decision after a full case.
Shafee moved the court to consider only two out of five principles from Suffian’s judgement, which stated that “if you accept or believe the accused’s explanation… acquit, and if you do not accept or believe the accused’s explanation but nevertheless it raises in your mind a reasonable doubt as to his guilt… acquit.”
Najib, 66, faces seven charges – three for criminal breach of trust, one for abuse of power and three for money laundering involving funds of RM42 million.
He has claimed that the billions of ringgit he allegedly received in his bank accounts between 2011 and 2014 when he was prime minister and finance minister, were donations from Saudi Arabia’s royal family and not public funds. If he is convicted of money-laundering, Najib faces up to 15 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to five times the sum of the illicit proceeds or RM5 million, whichever is higher, on each count.
The prosecution said that they expect the case to be completed within a year, following appeals to the appellate and federal courts.
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