KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here has sentenced former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to 12 years in jail and a total fine of RM210mil in default of five years in jail after he was found guilty of seven charges in the first of a series of cases involving the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal.
Prior to sentencing, Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali said he had taken into consideration several factors including the public interest, and observing key objectives of law enforcement.
"The sentence is not only to punish offenders but to deter other people from repeating the offence.
"I've also taken into consideration his contribution to the economic growth of the country," he added.
The court's decision is as follows:
1) The charge under Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) 2009 on abuse of power – 12 years and a fine of RM210mil, in default five years' jail.
2) Criminal breach of trust (CBT) with respect to all three charges under Section 409 of the Penal Code – 10 years each.
3) With respect to all three charges under Section 4(1)(b) of Anti-Money Laundering Act, Anti-Terrorism Financing Act and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act – 10 years each.
Justice Nazlan ordered for all jail sentences to run concurrently.
The Star will be reporting live from the court. Follow us here for updates.
8.18pm: Najib greets supporters at the gate before leaving the court premises to shouts of "Hidup Bossku!"
7.33pm: Court adjourns. Najib leaves the courtroom.
7.30pm: Justice Nazlan says the accused has successfully proven special circumstances in applying for a stay. The court allows for a stay of the jail sentence and fine.
The court also increased Najib's bail by an additional RM1mil in two sureties to be paid on Wednesday.
He was previously released on a RM1mil bail, which means his bail now stands at RM2mil. He is also ordered to report to the police station twice a month.
7.27pm: Shafee finishes his submission.
7.20pm: The Star learns that Najib's other 1MDB-linked case on Wednesday (July 29), where he is accused of using his position to order the tampering of the 1MDB audit report and former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy is accused of abetting him, has been vacated. The trial was initially scheduled to resume before High Court judge Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan.
6.50pm: Harvinderjit applies for a stay.
6.30pm: Judge sentences Najib to 12 years' jail and a RM210mil fine for power abuse under the MACC Act; 10 years' jail for each of three CBT charges, and another 10 year's jail for each of the three AMLA offences.
All jail sentences to run concurrently.
6.27pm: Justice Nazlan re-enters the court room.
5.43pm: Najib is seen pacing in the dock. He walks out of the dock and speaks to his son Ashman and stepson Riza. Ashman comforts his father by rubbing his back.
5.30pm: Shafee tells the court his client would like to say a few words.
Najib stands up in the dock and addresses the court off the cuff. He speaks about his achievements and contribution to the country during his tenure as the prime minister.
"Thank you Your Lordship. In mitigation, I would just like to refer to my tenure as prime minister for nine years, during which the country prospered to the extent that we have very strong robust economic growth for nine straight years ending with a 5.9% growth in 2017.
"It is also a period where we saw our stock market on the longest-ever bull run in our history, 1,900 points on the FBM KLCI.
"During this period, I oversaw massive infrastructure development in the country, including public transport and housing on a massive scale.
"I also ensured every single group and community benefited. For example, farmers, smallholders and government servants benefited from a large-scale programme to upgrade their income levels.
"Not only in terms of overall macro – some organisations like Petronas had over RM170bil in its cash reserves and that is a record achievement for Petronas, for Khazanah Nasional Bhd and also record dividends for Amanah Saham Nasional Bhd and Permodalan Nasional Bhd.
"I also ensured a fairer and more gentle society. I abolished the Internal Security Act (ISA), something I wasn't given much credit for.
"I ensured that the country did not undergo periods of abuse of power.
"I also put in a proposal to implement a more transparent system of political donations, that proposal required bipartisan support but the opposition at the time did not agree and the proposal did not see the light of the day.
"Secondly as a Muslim, although I've said it in the earlier part of the trial, let me say it again – Wallahi wabillahi watallahi. (The Arabic phrase is often used by Muslims to swear they are telling the truth.)
"I did not demand the RM42mil. I did not plan for the RM42mil nor was the RM42mil offered to me. There has been no evidence or witnesses that say so.
"I have no knowledge of the RM42mil.
"That's all I have to say."
5.23pm: After citing relevant case law, Sithambaram says none are comparable due to the position of accused.
He says the case is the "first of its kind" and as such,"stands on its own".
"We ask for a fair and just sentence, reflective of the deterrence needed... so it marks a lesson for not only politicians but all public officers," says Sithambaram before concluding his submission.
5.10pm: The armrest of co-counsel Harvinderjit Singh's chair breaks when he sits down. He moves to the front and sits next to lead counsel Shafee.
5pm: The prosecution says a worst-case scenario has been satisfied.
"We say so for the following consideration – the nature of the crime, the position and circumstance of the accused in committing the crime.
"The accused's role in SRC International even before it became an MOF Inc (MKD) company, the position he held to direct, sitting in the Cabinet to approve the government guarantees to enable SRC International to obtain the loan, the disbursement of the loan, the disbursement of the RM42mil to his accounts for the CBT offence, the utilisation of the finances to commit the AMLA offence," Sithambaram says.
If not for the exposure of the crime by the press, the prosecutor says the crime may have never been detected.
"The attempt to deny the signatures in key prosecution documents, and later backtracking... This makes it the worst case imaginable," he adds.
4.54pm: Sithambaram cites case law to push for a heavier sentence against the accused.
"These are all (rulings by) judges, not my own sayings. This is how the courts view corruption committed by people holding the highest office," he says.
4.45pm: Zahid, speaking to the media, says Najib told him: "This is not the end of the world".
The Umno president said the party accepts the court's decision. However he added that as a friend, he was sad and sympathised with Najib.
4.45pm: Zahid leaves the court complex, but not before greeting reporters and speaking to the media at the gate.
4.21pm: Zahid Hamidi enters the court room.
4.08pm: Court resumes. Ad hoc prosecutor Sithambaram addresses the court.
Sithambaram says Najib has a moral and fiduciary duty and the conviction shows he failed in this respect.
He says the court's sentence should serve as a precedent to all holders of the highest office in the land that no one is above the law.
In such corruption cases, the ad hoc prosecutor says the punishment should not only fit the crime but also act as a deterrent.
"Corruption is widespread in this country and must not be tolerated... Punishment must be paramount," he says.
Sithambaram adds that any leniency shown to the accused would be "displaced sympathy".
"In this case, the sentence should be looked at as sentence reserved for worst case possible," he says.
According to Sithambaram, the 1MDB-linked case also has tarnished the country's image with kleptocracy and he says the people of Malaysia do not deserve that.
"No prime minister nor finance minister have been found guilty of a crime. This is the first," he added.
3.58pm: Court is in recess. Shafee seen speaking to Riza Aziz, who is sitting in the public gallery.
3:53pm: Shafee finishes his mitigation submission saying "The higher the person is, the more serious the fall and that by itself is a punishment." Co-counsel Harvinderjit Singh takes over mitigation. Sithambaram asks for a short break. The court is in recess.
3.35pm: "My client has gone through a series of punishment already. He has been charged in at least four courts, he has also been hounded by the tax department, and the most ridiculous sum of money is now placed on his head as tax due, or taxable income of RM1.69bil - a staggering amount for an individual. That we submit is oppressive and it was purposefully undertaken," Shafee says.
3.27pm: In the mitigation, Shafee says his client "over-trusted" individuals. "He says that if he was at fault, he was only at fault in trusting people that ought to run the company – both 1MDB and SRC. "In certain instances, one can say he over-trusted. That he’s willing to take the blame for," Shafee says. He added that Najib is not the first prime minister who over-trusted individuals.
3.28pm: Shafee says,"From the first prime minister until now and especially Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, they have always been over-trusting. Because you cannot micromanage, you can only macromanage. And if the one you trusted betrays you, this is how you can end up."
3.20pm: Shafee says he is "hampered" by the fact that he is not able to study the court's detailed findings so he could use those facts in his mitigation.
3.15pm: Shafee says it is a given fact that Najib cooperated with the police and the MACC during investigations into 1MDB. "In 2015 itself, during his tenure as PM and finance minister when these matters were investigated, I was informed during this, he initiated the establishment of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) over the same matter - 1MDB, SRC," Shafee added.
3.06pm: Shafee proceeds with mitigation, touches on Najib's background. Shafee going through Najib's career, saying he was youngest appointed Mentri Besar of Pahang at the age of 29 when he was sworn in. He also speaks about the timeline of Najib's ministerial posts. "He is the Pekan MP and is currently an advisor to Barisan Nasional. He doesn't even have many traffic summonses or other offences," Shafee says.
3.05pm: Justice Nazlan, in his ruling, says he accepts that there are situations where sentencing can be postponed. "In my view, the accused must still provide good reasons to justify postponement. "Here, the request is on the premise of studying my summary on the grounds of judgment I delivered this morning. "I do not consider that as a valid justification. The accused still has the right to appeal. "As such, this court will proceed to hear mitigation for the accused," the judge said.
3.00pm: Both defence and prosecution have made their submissions. Justice Nazlan can be seen writing down his notes.
2:45pm: Sithambaram addresses the court. He says most of the cases cited involved cases where the accused pleaded guilty and not by a guilty verdict. He reiterated that the court has delivered judgment against Najib. "We all heard it and that should suffice for today's proceedings. "Finally, I wish to say the status of the accused pre- and post-conviction are wholly different. "Therefore, we are ready to proceed with the sentencing but if Your Lordship intends to adjourn, further conditions must be applied," he said.
2:43pm: Shafee gives more than five cases as precedents. "What we are suggesting is not completely unusual. Speaking from the bar, unlike (ad hoc prosecutor) Sithambaram, I have lost my cases. (Sithambaram was seen chuckling at this point). "I went through this period of learning, that this is what can be done (referring to fixing a different date for sentencing)," Shafee said. Justice Nazlan: What would be the status of the accused? Shafee: Your Honour can say that bail is extended.
2.25pm: Shafee gives examples of precedents where in those cases, sentencing had been postponed to different dates. "This has been done almost all the time at the lower courts," Shafee says. The senior lawyer added that the practice of adjourning sentencing was for the purpose of mitigation.
2.20pm: Najib is back in the dock and Justice Nazlan takes the bench. Shafee begins addressing the court.
2.18pm: Najib is back in the court room. With hands in his pocket and wearing a face mask, he is talking to an unidentified man in his entourage.
1.05pm: Crowd gathers in front of gates to court complex, shouting "Hidup Bossku".
12.57pm: Najib's supporters seem to be in a solemn mood after they discover the verdict and await the decision on sentencing.
12.52pm: The court is adjourned. Najib's supporters seen crowding him in court.
12.50pm: Najib taken into custody in the witness room attached to the court room. The former prime minister will remain there until the proceedings resume at 2pm and he is not allowed to leave since he is convicted. Food for lunch will be provided for him and he is allowed to pray in the room.
12.50pm: Justice Nazlan agrees to postpone matter until 2pm to decide. "If the court is unconvinced, the court will proceed with sentencing."
12.45pm: Shafee said there were precedents but the cases were not reported. Justice Nazlan then asked what happened to the accused in such a case. Shafee: The case was just adjourned. It is bound by the terms of the bail until the matter is over. Shafee says Najib's bail in SRC International was a RM1mil but the global sum his client is paying for bail for all his cases is RM6mil which he says is a "punishing amount". "His account as been frozen. He's been slammed with RM1.69bil claims in tax arrears," Shafee said. Justice Nazlan appears unconvinced as of now. "I am unconvinced," the judge said.
12.41pm: Justice Nazlan asks Shafee,"Do you have any precedents where the court does not proceed with sentencing?"
12.37pm: Shafee, in justifying his request to postpone sentencing, said the sentencing must be done on the offences rather than the personality. "I find it more interesting in this case, more challenging in this case (referring to mitigation for sentence). "It is not an understatement to say this is the biggest case in the world. I say that without batting an eye. "We need some time to do proper mitigation," Shafee added. He said he takes mitigation very seriously and doesn't take any less than two hours to mitigate for his client.
12.32pm: Ad hoc prosecutor Dautk V Sithambaram objects to postponing Najib's sentencing till Monday. "Your Lordship has found the accused guilty. Usually, a stay comes after a sentence. Stay of conviction? There cannot be a stay of conviction."
12.25pm: Najib appeared calm when Justice Nazlan read out his decision and his lead counsel, Shafee Abdullah, says sentencing and mitigation should be adjourned to Monday (Aug 3). "As we are aware, the whole country is in lockdown. My client is not going anywhere."
12.17pm: The defence has failed to establish beyond reasonable doubt the charges of CBT against the accused, says Justice Nazlan As the shadow director, he was entrusted with the property and with dishonest intention had misappropriated and used for himself the RM42mil. The judge said the defence had also failed to cast reasonable doubt for Najib’s three counts of money-laundering (Section 4(1)(b) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act). "I therefore find the accused guilty and convict the accused on all seven charges."
12.01pm: On the issue of letters received by Najib, which claimed that he had received a donation from King Abdullah, Justice Nazlan said the writer - Prince Saud Abdulaziz - did not mention in the letters that he was writing on behalf of the King.
(The court had heard that the MACC made a trip to Riyadh in November, 2015, to obtain a statement from Prince Saud regarding four letters that were said to be signed by him, claiming that a RM2.6bil donation was made to former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.)
Justice Nazlan says the letter mentioned a large sum of money yet the accused did not make any enquiries about the money to satisfy himself.
"The writer said he did not expect anything in return, which is of suspicious nature, yet the accused, an intelligent person and a prime minister, did not probe further," he said.
11.45am Justice Nazlan spoke about the defence's contention that the accused believed the money in his account came from an Arab donation.
"In my view, even at this juncture, when the accused was told of the impending donation from Jho Low, the accused should have taken steps to verify and adduce proof of the information.
"There were no details about the donations or whether it would come with conditions. "Is it foreign aid, a grant or a loan? The accused could have picked up his mobile and communicated especially with his foreign affairs minister or the Saudi ambassador. Instead the accused, as PM, accepted a simple confirmation from Jho Low," he said.
11.36am: Najib, who is sitting in the dock with an inflatable cushion for his back, appears calm as Justice Nazlan continues reading out his judgment.
11.30am: On the defence's claim that Najib's signature was forged in some documents. judge says,"The question is, who has the audacity to forge his signature?"
11.19am: Justice Nazlan says testimony in court confirms involvement of Jho Low, including giving instructions regarding Najib's bank accounts to Joanna Yu, whom defence has claimed is a "rogue banker".
11.16am: Police have warned supporters and others in and around court complex to maintain social distancing and follow SOPs of recovery movement control order.
11.10am: Judge now touches on the involvement of Azlin Alias, Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil and Jho Low.
11.01am: Justice Nazlan has completed a segment in his judgment on the first charge relating to power abuse. "In conclusion, in my judgment, having considered all the evidence presented in this court, I find that the defence has not succeeded in rebutting the presumption on the balance of probabilities or raising reasonable doubt against the accused under Section 23(1) of the MACC Act."
10.34am: Justice Nazlan is going into issue of loan approvals for SRC International.
10.30am: Media personnel have gathered in the lobby of the court complex.
10.27am: Justice Nazlan is reading his judgment, touching on the establishment of SRC International.
10.17am: Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali enters the court room. Ad hoc prosecutor Sithambaram stands up to introduce the prosecution and the defence. Justice Nazlan thanks both prosecution and defence for professionalism and decorum.
10.15am: Najib re-enters the court room with his lead counsel Shafee Abdullah.
10.13am: Najib's lead counsel Shafee Abdullah arrives in court.
10.12am: Najib steps out of the courtroom.
10.10am: The seats in the public gallery are all taken. Najib is in court. No sign of Shafee Abdullah yet.
9.57am: Najib enters the court room, with him are his sons Nor Ashman and Nizar and stepson Riza Aziz. Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan is also present in court room.
9.46am: Najib's daughter Nooryana Najwa takes to Instagram to thanks supporters for showing up at High Court.
9.40am: Prosecution team, led by ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram, enters court room.
9.33am: Defence team starts entering court room. No sign of lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah yet.
9.31am: Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at court complex to shouts of "Hidup Bossku!" and "Kami sayang bossku (We love bossku)" from supporters. Among those accompanying him is Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan.
9.30am: The court room is open. Body checks conducted at the door. Police reminding those entering the court room to put their phones on silent and that any form of recording is not allowed.
9.20am: A police officer has just informed the media that the door to High Court 3 will be opened at 9.30am. According to the policeman, the court room is still empty and nobody from either the prosecution or the defence is inside yet.
9:10am: Police officers stationed at the entrance to High Court 3 where Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali will be delivering his decision. A police officer said the door will be opened at 9.15am and proceedings are expected to start at 10am.
8.47am: Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan seen arriving and mingling with supporters.
8:45am: Media personnel with passes are allowed in through the main gate
8.37am: Video link room with WiFi prepared by the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex management to cater to 40 local and foreign journalists who are covering the proceedings. Only 10 passes for media organisations, including The Star, have been issued for open court.
8.35am: Umno Youth chief Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki seen outside the court complex with supporters.
8.29am: Long queues forming outside the Court Complex as the crowd starts building up.
8.20am: More than 10 buses are parked at nearby Masjid Wilayah, believed to be carrying Najib Razak's supporters. Some have arrived much earlier and prayed at the mosque before heading to the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex.
7.38am: A large group of media personnel have gathered at the Jalan Duta Court Complex ahead of today's proceedings.
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