KUALA LUMPUR; Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah today laid out the line of defence that Datuk Seri Najib Razak intends to take in clearing his name against charges of abusing SRC International funds.
The former prime minister, Shafee said, had at all times acted in the best interests of the Government of Malaysia and not for any personal gain.
He said the bulk of the evidence had also shown that Najib had "no knowledge of, or reasonable suspicion" to believe that money which had been banked into his personal accounts was proceeds of any illegal activity.
He said Najib merely relied on information provided to him based on the surrounding circumstances that existed from 2011 to 2015.
Touching on all the money which had been banked into Najib's accounts and used by the latter, Shafee said the Investigating Officer (IO) in the case had himself testified that the total usage of the funds by way of cheques issued and credit card expenditure was consistent with corporate social responsibility (CSR) purposes and not for personal enrichment.
He said 98 per cent of the funds utilised were for CSR, 1.5 per cent was used for a gift to a foreign signatory and only 0.5 per cent was used for other purposes.
"My client will confirm this stunning fact and this court can then infer whether such spending, which never benefited him personally but a cross section of the public at large, is the action of a criminal."
He said Najib's utilisation of the funds from 2011 to 2015 were almost all for CSR related matters to promote political, social, charitable causes and community related projects.
"Quite apart from this, the Credit Cards were charged for gifts to foreign dignitaries and some personal expenses. The amount utilised for personal matters was minimal and in any event was done in the belief that the money could be utilised by him as he deemed fit.
"Najib never intended to wrongfully gain or enrich himself with any of those funds and never intended to cause harm to any party.. he was being misrepresented about the transactions and actual balances in his accounts in 2013 to 2015 and his accounts were being manipulated by third parties without his knowledge and approval," he said.
Shafee said Najib was not involved in any corrupt arrangement involving funds of SRC International and did not solicit any bribes from any person.
"The RM42 million transferred into his account was done without his knowledge or involvement and was not a form of gratification related to any act of Najib concerning SRC International," he said.
Shafee said this in his opening statement at the start of Najib's defence where the former prime minister is accused of misappropriating SRC International funds.
Najib is facing three counts of criminal breach of trust and one count of abuse of power over funds amounting to RM42 million linked to SRC International.
He is also facing three money laundering charges over the same funds and faces up to 20 years jail and fine for the offences.
Shafee said the evidence as a whole does not support the inference that the RM42 million banked into Najib's accounts was gratification which the Pekan member of parliament received as part of a corrupt arrangement.
"The evidence in fact reflects that there was no nexus between any of the acts of Datuk Seri Najib vis-à-vis SRC in 2011 and 2012 and the transfer of these funds into his accounts in 2014 and 2015.
"The impetus and cause of the transactions in 2014 and 2015 reflected in the contemporaneous records in evidence also does not support any such nexus or the existence of a single continuous plot or scheme by Datuk Seri Najib," he said.
On questions about Najib's failure to lodge a police report or complain about transactions in his personal bank accounts, Shafee said his client did not do so as this was already being investigated by the authorities at that time.
Najib, he said, chose "to respect the process and integrity on the then on-going investigations."
"This very reason was recorded in the reply filed on behalf of Najib in the civil suit he brought against (former MCA president) Tun Dr Ling Leong Sik which was filed on Jan 12, 2016.
"Ultimately the findings of the then Attorney General on the matter was published in 2016 and given the same no further action was required," he said.
Shafee then outlined that Najib will himself give evidence on the events which led to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) being set up and approved by the Cabinet and the intended involvement of SRC international in matters relating to key national development areas.
Shafee said Najib will also explain the government’s endorsement to the setting up of SRC International and its support for the Retirement Fund Incoporated (KWAP) to provide RM4 billion loan to the company.
He said the defence will also show that Najib did not control or direct the SRC International board of directors on any matter as everything concerning the company was left in the hands of the "competent, extremely qualified and experienced" members of the board.
"We will also show that Najib had no knowledge or involvement in the matters which resulted in funds flowing out of SRC International accounts.
"It was the surrounding circumstances and material events which led Najib to believe that Low Taek Jho @ Jho Low was a close associate of the royal family of Saudi Arabia and that money he received from 2011 to 2014 were in fact donations from King Abdullah, in pursuance to assurances my client received from King Abdullah himself."
Shafee said Najib had at all times thought matters relating to the opening of his CSR accounts, the remittances into the accounts and supporting documents for the same had been duly reported to Bank Negara Malaysia and its then Governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz.
"This fortified his belief that nothing sinister was taking place."
Shafee said the defence will ultimately submit that Najib had always acted in the best interest if the government and never misused his office.
"Ultimately we will pray for an order that Najib is acquitted and discharged of all seven charges."