Najib cannot sue banker

Day in court: Najib arriving at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex for the case involving SRC International. — Bernama

PUTRAJAYA: Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has failed to reinstate his lawsuit against former banker Joanna Yu, AmBank Islamic Bhd and AMMB Holdings Bhd over alleged mismanagement of his bank accounts which he claimed led to the SRC International Sdn Bhd charges.

In a unanimous decision, a three-man panel chaired by Justice Yaacob Md Sam ruled that the criminal charges faced by Najib could not be attributed to or caused by the respondents.

“It is a matter of sole unfettered discretionary power by the Attorney General being the public prosecutor to initiate any criminal charges under the law provisions.

“As such, we are of the view that the appellant is seeking to proceed with his civil suit, clearly to undermine the criminal proceedings and the findings made by the two courts, the High Court and the Court of Appeal in the SRC International case,” he said in a Zoom proceeding yesterday.

Najib first initiated the legal action on Dec 9, 2019, where he sued AmBank, AMMB Holdings and Yu as defendants for negligence when handling his bank accounts.

The Pekan MP contended that AmBank and Yu had committed negligence by disclosing details of his bank accounts to fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or better known as Jho Low, without authorisation, and that he was kept in the dark about the details of his own bank account statements and other related documents by the bank under Low’s instruction.

The suit was struck out by a Kuala Lumpur High Court on Sept 28, 2020, on grounds that the legal action by Najib was “unsustainable”.

Najib filed for appeal, which came up for decision in yesterday’s proceedings.

The appellate court agreed with the respondents’ submission that the lawsuit was a “collateral attack” of what already transpired and completed before the criminal court.

“We agree that the administration of justice would be chaotic if, after the start of a prosecution, a declaration of innocence or a relief from any criminal wrongdoing could be obtained from a civil court.

“We are of the view that by doing so, the civil court would improperly intrude into the dominion of a criminal court. It cannot be right to have the same issue being adjudicated by two different courts.

“We find no merit in this appeal and therefore dismiss this appeal respectively with costs. The order of the High Court is affirmed,” Justice Yaacob said.

The court granted costs of RM40,000 to both the Ambank entities and RM35,000 in costs to Yu.

The two other judges on the panel were Justices Hadhariah Syed Ismail and Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim.

In the Sept 28, 2020, decision by the High Court, the court found Najib’s lawsuit to be scandalous, frivolous, vexatious, and an abuse of court process.

Yu was the 54th prosecution witness testifying in the SRC International trial, where Najib has been found guilty of seven charges involving the misappropriation of RM42mil from SRC International’s funds.

The SRC International case is now at the appeal stage at the Federal Court.

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