‘RM500,000 spent on Chanel’

Tight security: Najib arriving at the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Razak used half a million ringgit of the total RM42mil of laundered money he received to splurge on Chanel products at a US boutique four years ago, the High Court heard.Attorney General Tommy Thomas revealed this at the much awaited first day hearing of the former prime minister, who is on trial for laundering RM42mil linked to funds from SRC International Sdn Bhd.

He said evidence would be led to show that the money, sourced from SRC International, was channelled into Najib’s private bank account by two subsidiary companies and later transferred again into another private account in Najib’s name.Thomas said the prosecution would show that Najib had issued personal cheques from the second private account for the shopping spree and a host of other expenses, including payments for renovation work on his homes in Jalan Langgak Duta here and Pekan, Pahang.

He said the prosecution would also show that cheques were issued to various Barisan Nasional component political parties.

The two companies that facilitated the transfer of the funds to Najib’s first account were Gandingan Men­tari Sdn Bhd (a wholly-owned subsidiary of SRC International) and Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd (purportedly appointed as SRC International’s corporate social responsibility partner).“The accused, between Aug 17, 2011, and Feb 8, 2012, as a result of the aforesaid, had received as gratification the said monies totalling RM42mil into his AmPrivate Bank­ing-1MY no.211-202-201188-0 and AmPrivate Banking-MY no.211-202-201190-6 bank accounts,” Thomas said when reading out the 10-page opening statement, which set the stage for the first day of the trial.

For the criminal breach of trust (CBT) charges, he said the prosecution would show that Najib, as prime minister and minister of finance and adviser emeritus of SRC Inter­na­­tional, whilst entrusted with monies belonging to SRC Inter­­­national, committed CBT in respect of the RM27mil, RM5mil and RM10mil belonging to SRC Inter­national.Thomas also said evidence would show that Najib’s credit card was charged US$130,625 (RM533,441) for purchases made at the Chanel store in Honolulu in Dec­ember 2014.“This trial is the first of many kleptocracy-1MDB-linked prosecutions. To prove the prosecution’s case beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecution will be relying on direct and circumstantial evidence, both oral and documentary,” he added.Thomas said Najib had occupied the most powerful office in the land and wielded near-absolute power.

He said Najib, who held the twin positions of prime minister and finance minister, had also been chairman of the board of advisers of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and adviser emeritus in its subsidiary SRC Internat­ional.“A common feature of both companies was that the true power in directing and managing their affairs did not lie with the board of directors, as is required by law and is the universal practice wherever companies carry on business, but in the person of the accused by virtue of his holding these two positions,” he added.

The trial, Thomas said, was evident of Article 8(1) of the Federal Constitution, which states that all persons are equal before the law.

“A former prime minister is charged under due process in the ordinary court of the land, like any other accused.

“The accused is not above the law, and his prosecution and this trial should serve as precedents for all future holders of this august office,” he said, adding that the prosecution must now prove Najib’s crimes beyond a reasonable doubt.

Coincidentally, 10 years ago yesterday Najib was sworn in as prime minister.

The first witness, 35-year-old assistant registrar Muhamad Akmal­udin Abdul­lah from the Companies Com­mission of Malaysia, later took the stand and told the court that SRC International had a paid capital of RM1mil when it registered with the commission in 2011.Najib is facing seven corruption charges involving the RM42mil.

On July 4 last year, he claimed trial to a charge of abuse of power and three counts of CBT linked to the 1MDB scandal.

On Aug 8 last year, he appeared in court again and was charged with three counts of money laundering involving the same RM42mil.

The hearing continues on April 15.

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