‘Forged signatures’ issue in SRC trial a red herring, says prosecutor – Free Malaysia Today

Najib Razak did not return the RM42 million in his bank accounts although he admitted receiving the money belonging to SRC International, the Court of Appeal heard today. (Bernama pic)

PUTRAJAYA: The defence’s brouhaha that two SRC International Sdn Bhd directors had used forged or “cut and paste” signatures to remit RM42 million which finally ended up in Najib Razak’s private bank accounts is not an issue in the trial, the Court of Appeal heard today.

Ad hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram said if at all there was a dispute, it was between SRC and the bank, and not Najib, who was not a party to the alleged wrongdoing.

“They (defence) are merely busybodies. Najib has no privity of contract with the bank,” he said.

Sithambaram, who was given a special licence by the attorney-general to prosecute Najib’s SRC International corruption case, said “the defence has to respond to the prosecution’s case on the seven charges” faced by the former prime minister.

“The issue of forged or unauthorised scan (of signatures) and electronic transfer is a non-starter, especially for the criminal breach of trust charges.

“The issue raised is a red herring by the defence, and who would have the audacity to fix a then sitting prime minister?” he asked.

He said SRC did not sue the bank for negligence or asked the financial institution to pay back the money.

“No company will keep quiet if there is no proper authorisation and withdrawal of money.”

Sithambaram said there was evidence that the SRC directors had authorised the bank to conduct electronic transfers and the bank said it had also acted based on the mandate of SRC signatories.

In fact, he said, Najib had not returned the RM42 million although he had admitted receiving the money that belonged to SRC.

“He only said (he did not have) knowledge of how the money came in but we have proven the RM42 million went into his accounts,” he said, adding that the prosecution was raising this issue as “we want to take the bull by the horns”.

Najib’s lead counsel, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, had said last week the prosecution’s case would have collapsed if the evidence of one of the signatories and then SRC directors, Suboh Md Yassin, was rejected by the High Court as he had made contradictory statements.

Suboh had said he had at first told Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigators who met him in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on Nov 17, 2015, that the 13 signatures in the electronic fund transfer instructions to the bank were genuine.

However, he said while being cross-examined by Shafee, he told MACC officers in Putrajaya on May 28 and 30, 2018 that his signatures could have been forged.

Suboh also said he once again told MACC officers on Aug 13 and 15, 2018 that the signatures were genuine.

The defence had suggested that former SRC chief executive officer Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil could have “photoshopped” (digitally manipulated) Suboh’s signature in the scanned copies before sending them to the bank to carry out the instructions to transfer funds.

Shafee had also suggested that Nik Faisal, who has gone missing, had forged and misused Suboh’s signature and put it in the hard copies.

Nik Faisal and Suboh were the signatories of the SRC account from which money was transferred to Gandingan Mentari, a subsidiary of SRC.

They were also signatories of the Gandingan Mentari account, where money was transferred to Ihsan Perdana, a company selected to carry out corporate social responsibility programmes for SRC.

The prosecution contends that RM42 million from Ihsan Perdana was transferred to Najib’s three Ambank accounts at the Jalan Raja Chulan branch through a “layering process” to conceal its origin.

Trial judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali sentenced Najib in July last year to 12 years’ jail and ordered him to pay a RM210 million fine after finding him guilty on the seven counts of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering in relation to the RM42 million belonging to SRC.

He is appealing against his conviction and sentence in the Court of Appeal.

The hearing continues tomorrow.

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