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Timeline: Najib’s SRC International 1MDB Trial

Timeline: Najib’s SRC International 1MDB Trial

We recap everything that happened starting 3 July 2018 so you don’t get lost in the interwebs.

Kirat Kaur

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3 July 2018 – Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was arrested at his residence in Langgak Duta at around 3pm and brought to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters.

MACC later released a statement confirming that the arrest was related to the SRC International Sdn Bhd investigations, a former unit of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). [The Star]

Najib’s house in Jalan Langgak Duta, Kuala Lumpur.
(Credit: NST)

4 July 2018 – Najib charged with three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT), one count of power abuse over ex-1MDB unit SRC International’s RM42 million funds.

The three CBT counts under Section 409 of the penal code where he is accused of receiving proceeds from unlawful activities into two of his AmIslamic Bank Bhd accounts are:

  • RM 27 million between 24 & 29 December 2014.
  • RM 5 million between 24 & 29 December 2014
  • RM10 million between 10 February & 2 March 2015

For the abuse of power charge under Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009, he is accused of accepting RM42 million from SRC International Bhd, a former unit of 1MDB, in exchange of giving government guarantees on SRC’s RM4 billion loan from the pensioner’s fund Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (KWAP).

The judge granted a RM1 million bail with two sureties and Najib was asked to surrender his two passports. [NST, Bernama & The Malaysian Insight]

8 August 2018 – Najib charged with three counts of money laundering over the same RM42 million funds. The money-laundering charges are related to three tranches – RM27 million, RM5 million and RM10 million each – banked into Najib’s AmBank account between December 2014 and February 2015.

Now facing a total of 7 charges, he could be jailed 125 years if found guilty on all charges. [The Malaysian Insight]

3 April 2019 – Najib’s trial begins with first prosecution witness called.

The witness told the court that SRC International was issued a capital of RM1 million when it registered with SSM on 7 January 2011. Checks on shareholders found that all one million shares were owned by the Finance Ministry (Incorporated). [Bernama]

24 April 2019 – The court heard that a total of RM64 million went into an AmBank account belonging to Najib in 2014 and 2015.

A witness from AmBank shared in court that RM37 million out of the RM64 million was credited into Najib’s account between December 2014 and February 2015 from the bank account of Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd (IPSB) – the corporate social responsibility unit of SRC International. [The Stairts Times]

2 May 2019 – Former KWAP assistant vice-president Amirul Imran Ahmat testified that the pensioners fund was under intense pressure to proceed quickly with a RM3.95 billion loan application from SRC International in 2011.

He said the pensioner’s fund was pushed to approve it quickly even though SRC International failed to submit sufficient documentation for the loan approval. [NST]

KWAP’s former assistant vice president Amirul Imran Ahmat testified that the loan to SRC International had been rushed.
(Credit: The Edge)

6 May 2019 – The 30th witness, Affin Bank employee Norhayati Mohd Yunus, confirmed in court that the three transactions totalling RM42 million into both Najib’s bank accounts from the Affin Bank account of Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd. [Astro Awani]

8 May 2019 – Ex-KWAP officer Amirul Imran Ahmat testified that Najib had signed the federal government’s guarantee for an RM2 billion loan from KWAP to SRC International in 2012, as prime minister and finance minister.

SRC International received a total of RM4 billion in loans from KWAP – the largest loan ever given out by the retirement fund. [Malaysiakini]

KWAP is Malaysia’s largest public services pension fund with a total fund size of RM140.8 billion incorporated in 2007. It manages investment portfolios, employer contributions and pension services.​ (Credit: Azhan.co)

29 May 2019 – A witness told court that Najib was ‘shocked and upset’ when he found out that millions had been banked into his personal bank accounts in 2015.

The witness, Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd managing director Datuk Dr Shamsul Anwar Sulaiman, said he told Najib about it after being released by MACC who were investigating funds funnelled from 1MDB account to various of its subsidiary companies, including SRC International Sdn Bhd and IPSB. [NST]

A witness testified that Najib was “shocked and upset” when he found out that millions had been transferred into his personal bank accounts.
(Credit: Miera Zulyana/Malay Mail)

3 July 2019 – Non-executive chairperson of SRC International, Datuk Suboh Md Yassin testified in court that he had no knowledge on how the RM4 billion loan from KWAP was utilised. He said he had no knowledge of how and where the money was transferred to.

He also did not know that KWAP’s second RM2 billion loan came into SRC’s account and was transferred to another account two days later. [Bernama]

15 July 2019 – AmBank’s senior vice-president of credit card authorisation and fraud management Yeoh Eng Leong testified that two credit cards in Najib’s name had been charged RM3.36 million in 10 transactions on the same day at an Italian outlet of jeweller De Grisogono in 2014.

Najib later defended the charge on Facebook, saying that it was used to purchase “gifts” for the royalty of another country. [Malaysiakini]

17 July 2019 – Former group managing director of AmBank Cheah Tek Kuang testified that he met with Low Taek Jho, aka Jho Low, at Najib’s house in Jalan Langgak Duta in Kuala Lumpur, regarding the former prime minister’s request to open bank accounts in AmBank.

Cheah described Jho Low as a person who is never punctual and a liar and that he never trusted the man. [Bernama]

Ex-AmBank relationship manager Joanna Yu testified in court as a prosecution witness.
(Credit: Miera Zulyana/Malay Mail)

22 July 2019 – Former AmBank relationship manager Joanna Yu Ging Ping told the High Court that Jho Low had suggested a code name to be used for Najib’s accounts with the bank to ensure confidentiality.

Joanna stated that this was the first individual account to have been designated with a code name, based on her dealings with her portfolio of corporate clients.

She also said Najib’s current accounts with the bank had a high volume of transactions between 2011 and 2015, which included inward fund transfers from overseas in foreign currencies.

For the purposes of reporting the overseas inward fund transfer to Bank Negara Malaysia, she was told that they were ‘gifts’ by former SRC managing director Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, who is also the mandated holder to oversee Najib’s AmBank accounts. [The Edge]

Najib celebrated his 66th birthday at the KL Court Complex on 23 July 2019.
(Credit: Mukhriz Hazim/Malay Mail)

25 July 2019 – The cross examination of Joanna by the defence continued. She explained in court that Jho Low had insisted in 2011 that Najib’s banking statements not be sent to the former prime minister’s house in Jalan Langgak Duta.

Earlier in the day, the hearing proceedings were halted after a bomb threat was issued for the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex.

Everyone was forced to vacate the building as the bomb squad and K-9 unit swept the complex for explosive devices. The police gave the all clear about 2pm and the hearing resumed. [NST]

Credit: Police cordon off the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex with yellow tape following a bomb threat on 25 July 2019.
(Credit: Firdaus Latif/Malay Mail)

31 July 2019 – Cross examination of Joanna revealed that the former AmBank employee drafted email replies for Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, mandate holder of Najib’s personal AmBank accounts, to send to her colleagues in the bank to ensure cheques issued from the account in 2014-2015 did not bounce.

Defence counsel Harvinderjit Singh asserted that Nik Faisal was merely a ‘rubberstamp’ to approve instructions that were given by Jho Low to Joanna.

At that time, Nik Faisal was also the chief executive officer and managing director of SRC International Sdn Bhd. [The Edge]

Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, mandate holder of Najib’s personal AmBank accounts and formeo CEO of SRC International.
(Credit: The Star)

1 August 2019 – Joanna testified that Jho Low informed her that a RM27 million transfer – codenamed ‘Eagle 27’ – into Najib’s personal account was a donation from a royalty. It was actually from SRC International Sdn Bhd’s account.

The cross examination also revealed Jho Low’s strong influence on the transfer of millions of ringgit out of SRC International Sdn Bhd’s accounts. [The Edge & Malaysiakini]

5 August 2019 – Joanna confirmed Jho Low’s various tactics to bypass Bank Negara Malaysia’s anti-money laundering controls in funnelling money out of SRC’s accounts into Najib’s accounts, which include denoting the funds as “gift” or “donation” in the supporting documents required by the central bank.

The defence had spent a week going into her chat logs with Jho Low, particularly on how he had issued fund transfer instructions despite not being a mandate holder of the accounts. [The Edge]

Fugitive businessman Low Thaek Jho aka Jho Low is presented as a key figure in instrumenting the transfer of funds into Najib’s personal bank accounts.
(Credit: @jho_low/Twitter)

8 August 2019 – Former second finance minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah testified that the parties tasked to implement the debt rationalisation plan of 1MDB did not follow the original plan.

Husni explained that he prepared the rationalisation plan, but the implementation was done by former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy.

This was his reason for resigning  in June 2016.

He also testified that he was instructed to sign documents pertaining to the government guarantee for SRC’s first RM2 billion loan from KWAP despite not having sufficient documentation to scrutinise the arrangement.

Husni also told the court that his request to recover some RM3.6 billion of SRC International’s funds frozen in Switzerland was denied by Najib, then prime minister and finance minister. [The Edge & Malaysiakini]

Former finance minister II Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah at the Kuala Lumpur High Court in August 2019.
(Credit: Firdaus Latif/Malay Mail)

22 & 23 August 2019 – MACC investigating officer Rosli Husain said the commission did not investigate claims by Najib that he had received donations from the King of Saudi Arabia as he thought it was irrelevant to the ongoing SRC International trial.

He also consistently rejected the defence counsel’s suggestions that Najib had been duped by Jho Low, who was blamed for manipulating SRC International and several other companies implicated in the scandal.

Rosli said his investigation showed that whatever was done “did not benefit Low”. [NST & NST]

27 August 2019 – Prosecution’s case closed after 57 prosecution witnesses testify in 57 days. [Malaysiakini]

11 November 2019 – High Court rules prosecution proved prima facie case on all 7 charges of abuse of power, corruption and money-laundering involving RM42 million of funds from SRC International and orders Najib to enter defence.

In a press conference, Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said his client was shocked and was expecting to be acquitted of all charges. [Malay Mail]

3 December 2019 – Najib’s defence begins and he chooses to testify as a witness in his own defence opening himself to cross-examination from prosecutors and public scrutiny.

Reading from a prepared statement, Najib explained that the 1MDB sovereign wealth fund started off as the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) – which was established in 2009 by the then-Yang DiPertuan Agong, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin.

Najib said TIA was established based on discussions between Jho Low, Sultan Mizan and the Terengganu government, but it ran into trouble when the Terengganu government could not agree with some of the Islamic Medium Term Notes (IMTN) terms, even though the RM5 billion bonds had been issued.

He testified that the cabinet decided to take over to protect the state government and the YDP Agong from embarrassment, as well as to avoid a negative impact on the Malaysian bond market, globally.

Najib also asserted that he was never directly involved in the management of 1MDB, only dealing with the CEO of the fund.

On Jho Low, Najib said that the businessman gave the impression of being close to local and Middle Eastern royalty, and seemed capable of helping 1MDB achieve its goals.

Regarding the RM4 billion KWAP loan to SRC International, Najib said he only provided support by writing “setuju” on a letter but it was not a carte blanche approval. [Malay Mail & NST]

Lawyer Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah leads Najib’s defence counsel in the SRC trial.
(Credit: Firdaus Latif/Malay Mail)

4 December 2019 – Najib testfied that it was Jho Low who convinced him to open the AmBank accounts in 2010 in anticipation of personal donations from Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah.

Najib said he received a huge sum of money between 2011 and 2014, believed to be donations by King Abdullah, with Jho Low as the intermediary on behalf of the Saudi Arabia’s royal family.

Najib claimed he has returned over RM2.1 billion of the “donation”. [Malay Mail]

Najib with King Abdullah Abdulaziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia in 2010 when he was still prime minister.
(Credit: The Star)

18 December 2019 – Najib refused to verify if the signatures on documents tendered in the trial were his and insisted that a handwriting expert be called to establish authenticity.

The photocopied documents bearing his signatures were initially shown to him by the MACC during the investigation, which he confirmed was his but maintained he had “reservations” and “doubts” at that time.

Later in the trial, he verified the signatures’ authenticity. [Malay Mail & Malay Mail]

9 January 2020 – Najib said that he only liaised with Jho Low in “very few instances” over the operations of his bank accounts such as personal credit card transactions and cheque issuance.

He said that most of the time, it would be done through his former private secretary, the late Datuk Azlin Alias.

Najib told the court he was kept informed on his AmBank account by Azlin who was kept updated by Nik Faisal.

Regarding SRC International’s frozen funds in Switzerland, Najib explained that he wanted former second finance minister Husni Hanadzlah to come up with a “proper plan” to retrieve funds but chose to keep silent over his intention. [Malay Mail & Malay Mail]

21 & 22 January 2020 – Najib testified in court that he had agreed to a government guarantee for the second RM2 billion KWAP loan to SRC International despite no solid developments from the first RM2 billion loan.

Although there was no concrete evidence of any progress since SRC’s inception in 2011, Najib said SRC would be able to do better with the second loan.

Najib also admitted to keeping former SRC CEO Nik Faisal as his personal bank accounts’ mandate holder despite the questionable track record in managing the firm’s finances.

He told the court that he kept Nik Faisal as an SRC International director, after removing him from the CEO, as he wanted “continuity” in order to repatriate SRC funds frozen by the Switzerland’s authorities. [The Edge & Malay Mail]

23 January 2020 – It would be difficult to get Saudi royal family to testify over the RM2.6 billion donation, Najib told the court during cross-examination by deputy public prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram.

He also did not check with the donor whether the unused donation money was properly returned, relying on Jho Low to confirm as he was a conduit to the royal family.

Prosecution concludes its cross-examination on the former prime minister.[Bernama/The Star]

3 February 2020 – Stating that he’s not that stupid to do something so bizzare, Najib asserts his innocence in the entire SRC International affair by saying that he would not brazenly put stolen money into his personal bank accounts.

Najib said it was “ludicrous” that he would siphon funds from a company listed under the Minister of Finance (Incorporated) Department straight into his personal bank account. [Malay Mail]

A lot of people must give me credit; I not that stupid. I am maybe not the most intelligent person, but I am not stupid to do something so bizarre.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak via Malay Mail

4 February 2020 – Najib claimed that Jho Low had used the RM42 million as an “investment” to maintain Najib’s trust and to prevent the financier’s alleged scams from being revealed. Najib alleged that this amount was miniscule compared to the financial gains that Jho Low made from wrongdoings that Najib claimed to have been unaware of at the time.

Najib said he only began doubting the Jho Low’s legitimacy when he had his statement recorded by MACC in 2015. [Malay Mail]

11 February 2020 – Former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom testified today that Najib had made a request for donations from the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

He said he had never heard of Jho Low being involved in this request and that it was a direct discussion between the late King Abdullah and Najib. [The Edge]

13 February 2020 – Former foreign affairs minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman told the court that the Cabinet was not alerted of the alleged donation from the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia as it was a personal contribution.

Anifah explained that since Najib was given the funds in a personal capacity, it was separate from the government. [The Edge]

27 February 2020 – MACC investigating officer Mohd Nasharudin Amir confirmed the authenticity of four letters linked to an alleged donation that the Saudi Arabia royals had given to the former prime minister.

Nasharudin also testified that the admission did not come from the Saudi royal but his legal representative when MACC had gone to Riyadh in November 2015 to record a statement from Prince Saud Abdul Aziz Malik Abdul Aziz al-Saud at the palace. [The Edge]

6 March 2020 – “Can I advise you something?”

Then MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya testified in court that the decision to publicly release the infamous audio recordings allegedly related to 1MDB and SRC International dealings was so that officials from the MACC, Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Prime Minister’s Office would never again be involved in criminal activity. [The Edge]

9 March 2020 – Royal Malaysia Police deputy director for corporate crime investigations, assistant commissioner (ACP) R Rajagopal testified in court as a witness.

He told the court that former MACC chief commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed has suggested charging former prime minister Najib Razak in a July 2015 1MDB special task force meeting over offences related to the sovereign fund and SRC International.

However, the suggestion fell through when then attorney-general (AG) Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail was removed from his position three weeks after the meeting. [The Edge]

11 March 2020 – The defence concludes their case in the SRC International Sdn Bhd trial after 33 days of hearing with 19 witness testimonies, including Najib. [The Edge]

1 – 3 June 2020 – Najib’s defence team presents oral submissions for three consecutive days.

In the oral submission, the defence claims that Najib’s alleged spending of the RM42 million did not constitute a criminal breach of trust, as misappropriation was committed by “third parties”. The defence named former SRC chief executive Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil and Jho Low responsible.

The defence insisted that Najib genuinely believed part of RM42 million spent was from Arab ‘donations’.

They also argued on the admissibility of evidence produced by the prosecution, stressing on inconsistencies within witness’ testimonies. They pointed out that the funds transacted into Najb’s accounts were done without his knowledge, arguing the absence of mens rea (intention or knowledge of wrongdoing that constitutes part of a crime).

However, the prosecution argued that Najib “deliberately” chose to not inquire about the source of the RM42 million deposited in his bank accounts.

They also highlighted that Najib did not deny knowledge of funds entering his accounts but claimed that it was Arab donations.

The prosecution also laid down that Najib was well aware of the bank accounts’ finances, proven through evidence showing how he had spent all of the RM42 million he is accused of misappropriating. [Malay Mail, Malay Mail, Malay Mail & Malay Mail]

4 June 2020 – Lead defence counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah insists that Najib is a victim of scam, placing the blame on Jho Low, Nik Faisal and “a bunch or rogue bankers like Joanna Yu and other senior management of SRC.”

He also argued that the case was hamstrung by circumstances surrounding the allegations and the number of personalities involved.

Oral submissions end. [Malay Mail]

28 July 2020 – High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali finds Najib guilty of all seven charges.

Najib was sentenced to a hefty fine and cumulative 72 years of jail time, of which are:

  • 12 years jail for abuse of power and RM210 million fine under Section 23 of the MACC Act.
  • 10 years jail for each of the three criminal breach of trust charges under Section 409 of the penal code.
  • 10 years jail for each of the three money laundering charges under the Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act (AMLATFPUAA).

The judge ruled that the jail sentences will run concurrently but 5 years jail time will be added if he fails to pay the fine. Najib was exempted from whipping due to his age.

However, the defence filed for a stay of execution for his sentence arguing that it would cause Najib grave inconvenience and impinge on his right to defend himself in his other cases.

They also argued that Najib was unable to pay the RM210 million fine as he was already ordered to pay RM1.69 billion to the Inland Revenue Board for overdue tax.

The judge granted the stay application but ordered bail increased by another RM1 million with two sureties to be paid by the next day. He also has to report to the nearest police station on the 1st and 15th of every month.

Najib’s status as an accused has changed to a convict.

In a press conference after the sentencing, Shaffee said that they will be appealing Najib’s conviction and sentencing within three months, believing that they have a good chance. [Malay Mail, Malay Mail, Astro Awani]

Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Complex on 28 July for the verdic.
(Credit: Yusof Mat Isa/Malay Mail)

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