KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today affirmed its decision to freeze Datuk Seri Najib Razak's assets and limit the former prime minister to only withdraw a maximum of RM100,000 monthly.
Judge Atan Mustaffa Yussof Ahmad made the decision after dismissing Najib's application to set aside the Mareva injunction granted to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) today.
A Mareva injunction is a Court order which effectively freezes assets of a defendant from being dissipated pending the outcome of a legal action before the Courts.
According to the Order for Injunction, the former Pekan member of Parliament must not remove or dispose the value of any of his assets up to the value of US$681,000,000 worldwide until the disposal of the case.
1MDB and its subsidiaries – 1MDB Energy Holding Ltd, 1MDB Energy Ltd, 1MDB Energy (Langat) Ltd, and Global Diversified Investment Companies Ltd filed a US$8 billion suit against Najib and several others two years ago.
Atan Mustaffa in his judgment said the plaintiffs (1MDB and its subsidiaries) have demonstrated a compelling case for unjust enrichment against Najib.
The evidence shows that Najib was enriched by US$681 million at their (plaintiffs) expense, without legitimate commercial purpose, legal entitlement, or consideration.
"The plaintiffs have successfully demonstrated a plausible evidential basis as evidence underscores that the said monies (US$681 million) which was raised under the aegis of Najib, was funneled through multiple entities and eventually made it was into his personal account in a rather expeditious manner.
"The plaintiffs have shown that Najib dishonestly received US$681 million in his Ambank Account, a sum traceable to them and lacking any legitimate purpose.
"This act goes against the plaintiff's objectives and interests, thereby establishing a strong case for fraudulent misappropriation.
"This enrichment is considered unjust, especially as Najib admitted to receiving the sum but claimed it was a political donation from the Saudi Monarch, offering no valid defences," he said.
He said the plaintiffs have demonstrated that Najib, while serving as prime minister and finance minister, committed misfeasance in public office by abusing his authority.
"Najib directed the creation of the 2013 bond, which resulted in the misappropriation of US$1,592,311,599 including a transfer of US$681 million to his personal account.
"This was done with either malicious intent or reckless indifference, causing harm to the plaintiffs and the public.
"Moreover, in the SRC criminal trial, an acknowledgement was made regarding the receipt of the said sum.
"This acknowledgement, viewed in the context of the application to strike out the defence of qualified privilege, signifies a tacit admission of having received the contested sum," he said.
Atan Mustaffa said Najib's contrasting interpretation of the standard required for a Mareva injunction, as compared to an interlocutory injunction, appears more nuanced than substantively grounded in existing jurisprudence.
He said the SRC criminal trial clearly discussed the matter of the US$681 million, which is central to the current Mareva injunction application.
"Najib's defence in the SRC criminal trial is relevant and highlights the importance of the trial's findings to this civil suit.
"The judgement from the SRC criminal trial showed that Najib's explanation about the funds as Arab donations was not persuasive, raising questions about his claims," he added.
On May 10 last year, 1MDB filed a combined total of 22 civil suits against various parties, including Najib to recover RM96.6 billion in assets.
The Finance Ministry in a statement said six of the 22 writs were filed by 1MDB, while the remaining 16 were by its former subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd.
The civil suits were filed as an effort by both entities to recover their assets with a combined total in excess of RM96.6 billion including approximately RM300 million against various local parties.
The writs filed by 1MDB are against a total of nine entities -including two foreign financial institutions, and 25 individuals.