Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Romen Bose on SRC Federal Court appeal

The weekend before the Federal Court final appeal began, Romen Bose; the former AFP reporter, former PMO and writer of the book Final Reckoning, he posted a status on his Facebook entitled: "Is this really justice?

Last night, he updated with "The Silence is Defeaning."

For many years, he saw from inside the Prime Minister's Office the events, including the deceipts and betrayals, leading to the fall of the BN government in his book.

We are now witnessing the long anticipated endgame to imprison Najib Tun Razak, which would indirectly shame and the great legacy of his father Tun Abdul Razak bin Dato Hussein.

Al Fatihah. May Allah guide us all back to the straight and rightful path.


Romen Bose
12 Ogos jam 1:12 PG

Is this really Justice?

I’ve had it.

I have been following the ongoing saga of Datuk Seri Najib’s SRC International trial and how it has been rushed over the last four years (fyi, Anwar’s Sodomy II trial took six and a half years) but I have not made any comments because of my belief in the independence and integrity of the Malaysian judiciary and in the honourable men and women who interpret and deliver judgements based on the laws of the land.

So, I was silent when the Court of Appeal dismissed new evidence allegedly showing that the husband of former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) Governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz, was allegedly in cahoots with Jho Low in the 1MDB scandal, a relationship the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) effectively confirmed in November 2021 when it said that as part of its recovery of 1MDB assets, Singaporean authorities had repatriated US$15.4 million to the Malaysian Government that had been seized from a company owned by Zeti’s husband.

Given Singapore’s robust banking, investigative and legal systems, I don’t think they would have seized and repatriated funds if they did not have proof that it was related to funds siphoned from 1MDB.

Mind you, Zeti’s reassurances was why Najib did not seem panicked when I spoke to him a day after the Wall Street Journal exposed the 1MDB scandal in 2015. As he told me then, he had been assured by Zeti that it was fine to open bank accounts in his own name and to have the US$643.41 million transferred in. Yet, despite giving Najib these assurances in 2012, Zeti then in 2018 publicly denied knowing anything about it.

She said: "In fact, on 3 July 2015, I was called to the Prime Minister`s office. He made a request for me to issue a statement that he had done nothing wrong in his account. I informed him that I cannot issue such a statement because I did not have knowledge of transactions that had occurred in his account."

Funnily enough, I believe the MACC had investigated Zeti in 2018/2019 and had even submitted a report to the AGC (i.e. the guys who were already prosecuting Najib) showing that not only was Zeti fully aware of the monies flowing into Najib’s account but that her husband was allegedly hiding his and her children’s ill-gotten gains in Singapore.

From this, I believe Zeti had lied about the various 1MDB-linked funds transfers. Whether it was from 1MDB, KWAP or SRC is academic. If she lied about this, then one has to call into question BNM’s involvement and awareness of the various other fund transfers.

The biggest question that I thought the judges would be asking was, “Why did Zeti not make Najib aware of any ‘suspicious’ transactions?” I would think US$643.41 million would qualify as a suspicious transaction. Could it be because she was fully aware of these transactions but kept quiet because she knew her husband was being paid handsomely by Jho Low? Or was it because, when the scandal broke, she realised the only way to save herself was to deny any knowledge of the transactions?

I would have thought that would have been enough doubt for the judges to see that Najib would have very likely been unaware of any impropriety in regard to the funds coming into his account (whether from SRC or not) as he relied on the promises of the then central bank governor (and other trusted advisors who we now know were also on Jho Low’s payroll) whose duty was to also warn him if anything improper had occurred, and who has now been shown to have lied about her knowledge and actions regarding the siphoned 1MDB-related funds.

I was also silent when the Federal Court said the Court of Appeal was correct in dismissing this new evidence. The Chief Justice laid down circumstances where further evidence could be adduced, namely that the evidence must not have been made available during the trial proper, that it is relevant and credible, and that it would have raised reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury or trial judge in arriving at the decision of a case.

Ok, I am not a lawyer, but isn’t an MACC report that effectively proves that the head of Malaysia’s financial regulator at the time of all these transactions (including that of the SRC funds) had lied about her involvement and knowledge of the transactions (and who knows what else?), constitute as relevant and credible? And would this not have raised a reasonable doubt in the mind of anyone as to whether there was a greater conspiracy linking the 1MDB and SRC charges against Najib?

And shouldn’t the judges also have asked themselves why the prosecution (whom I believe were made aware of the MACC report back in 2018/2019) did not the make the report public, but rather chose to quietly drop Zeti as a prosecution witness without giving any explanation?

I was also silent when the Bar Council held a protest to condemn the MACC’s investigation into trial Judge Mohamad Nazlan Mohamad Ghazali, following allegations of an unexplained sum of 1 million ringgit in his bank account and the fact that Nazlan had failed to disclose his role, involvement, or knowledge in the setting up of SRC International although he had served as the general counsel and company secretary for the Maybank Group in 2006.

In a summary of his High Court judgement, Nazlan allegedly stated: “…the approval for the establishment of SRC by the accused (Najib) provided the true starting point for the involvement of the accused in the company.”

Now, anonymous whistle-blowers have sent Najib a cache of minutes of Maybank meetings and emails (if proven authentic) showing that Nazlan, not only served as the general counsel for Maybank but also allegedly attended meetings where the bank recommended the setting up of SRC in the first place. As such, Nazlan was privy to matters which went to the heart of Najib’s defence in the SRC trial.

More interestingly, some of these documents also indicate the MACC, during its investigations of Nazlan earlier this year, had asked the judge about his involvement in the various Maybank meetings.

In his affidavit last week to adduce the new evidence, Najib said that he has been “made to understand that when asked by the MACC officer of his knowledge/involvement …, Justice Nazlan initially denied having any knowledge …, but only after being confronted with email threads and documents by the MACC officers (did Nazlan admit) that he was indeed involved.”

So, now, not only is there strong evidence that the then governor of the central bank had lied about her involvement in the 1MDB linked funds transferred into Najib’s accounts, but that the High Court judge who had convicted Najib on seven charges of abuse of power and misappropriation of RM42 million funds belonging to SRC, had himself also allegedly been caught lying to investigators about his involvement in the setting up of SRC and deliberations on a RM4.17 billion loan to 1MDB.

In 2018, the Bar Council had demanded that the initial SRC trial judge Mohd Sofian Abd Razak recuse himself as he was the younger brother of Pahang state executive councillor and Benta Umno state assemblyperson Mohd Soffi Abdul Razak. Bar President George Varughese said then: “The rule of law demands that justice must not only be done but it must manifestly be seen to be done.”

However, when it was shown that, the current SRC trial judge was intimately involved in the setting up of SRC and appears to have lied to investigators, the Bar Council remains silent.

It is convenient to say that one was not aware of the situation at the time of the trial but now that you are aware of it, what action will you take?

Shouldn’t you be demanding for a mistrial because the Bar Council believes that, “justice must not only be done but it must manifestly be seen to be done” in this instance as well? Or is there a double standard going on here?

But it was the Federal Court’s decision last Friday not to allow Najib’s newly constituted legal team more time to go through the evidence and prepare for his case, despite just being handed all this new evidence to sift through and prepare, that really takes the cake.

Here you have potential evidence that the country’s top financial regulator lied about her knowledge, role and involvement in the 1MDB related funds that went into Najib’s account and you also have potential evidence that the trial judge who convicted Najib, was caught lying to investigators about his involvement in the very company that Najib is accused of stealing from.

And none of these details were provided to Najib (even though I believe the prosecution would have likely seen the MACC report on Zeti) and it was only because of anonymous whistle-blowers who wanted to see justice prevail, that these documents have only now come to light. So far, no one has questioned or even impeached the authenticity or credibility of any of these documents.

And we refuse to give a few weeks more to Najib to prepare for proper submissions before you?

I may not be a lawyer, but even I understand the concept of natural justice. this is not it.

#najibrazak #NRC11 #finalreckoning #najibrazak #FREENAJIB #UMNO #UMNOSebuahPerjuangan #UmnoDuluKiniSelamanya #barisannasional #MCA #UMNOOnline #malaysiagazette


Romen Bose

The Silence is Deafening!

I was not surprised at last Tuesday’s decision and the sideshow that followed on Thursday and Friday. After rejecting evidence allegedly showing that the then head of the country’s top financial regulator had lied about her knowledge of 1MDB/SRC international/KWAP linked-funds going into Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s bank account and its refusal to give Najib’s new defence team even a few weeks to prepare their case, it was not shocking that the Federal Court judges, led by the Chief Justice, rejected Najib’s application for a new trial or to admit fresh new evidence allegedly showing that not only had the judge who convicted Najib been found to have lied but was also heavily conflicted because of his involvement in the setting up of SRC International, the company from which Najib is alleged to have stolen money.

Then to add insult to injury, the Chief Justice, not only disallowed Najib’s counsel to dismiss himself from the case (after having been denied more time to prepare new submissions) but insisted that he remain Najib’s counsel on record so that the Court could push through the appeal process, when in reality, it effectively left Najib without legal representation and meant that he would not able to put forward his defence before the court.

I suppose the judiciary has never been the same after former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad destroyed it with the removal of Tun Salleh Abas as Lord President back in 1988, and appointing many new judges loyal to Mahathir, some of whom now occupy senior posts across the land.

And of course, let’s not forget Mahathir’s involvement in the 14-minute video tape of the VK Lingam affair. Lingam, a senior lawyer very close to Mahathir, allegedly in 2001 brokered a deal with the then Chief Judge of Malaya Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Hamid to make him the next Chief Justice. Mahathir then made Fairuz Chief Justice shortly after, choosing Fairuz over a more senior candidate favoured by the outgoing Chief Justice. When asked in 2008, by a Royal Commission of Inquiry (set up to investigate the interference in judicial appointments) as to his rationale, Mahathir quipped, “I don't have to explain to anybody the reasons why.”

In its 2008 report, the RCI recommended that action be taken against Mahathir, Fairuz and four others for misconduct while in office. In 2015, Lingam was struck off the rolls of advocates and solicitors by the Bar Council who brought complaints against him, which included interfering in, or influencing judicial appointments. However, Mahathir and Fairuz, were not prosecuted.

Fairuz was the country’s presiding CJ before Mahathir stepped down in 2003, and before the entire scandal blew up in 2008, long after Fairuz had retired.

And of course, when he again became Prime Minister in 2018, Mahathir was back at it.

Within days of the opposition Pakatan Harapan coalition winning GE14, Daim Zainuddin, Mahathir’s former Finance Minister and Chairman of Mahathir’s Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) summoned Chief Justice Tun Md Raus Sharif and Court of Appeal President Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin and allegedly ordered them to resign.

A Chief Justice is not a political appointee who should resign if the Government during which period he was appointed, is defeated in the general election.

Nonetheless, Mahathir defended Daim’s actions saying that, “…Otherwise, the government may take action to remove them because we believe that the extension of their office as senior judges was not right.”

This appeared to be a replay of the Tun Abas episode, which was so galling that even a staunch DAP member like senior lawyer Ramkarpal Singh (son of the late DAP Chairman Karpal Singh) spoke out: “Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s defence of the Council of Eminent Persons for summoning the top two judges to demand their resignations, was ill-advised and against the rule of law…When it summons judges and demands their resignations, it will be seen as the government demanding their resignations which is in complete disregard for the principle of separation of powers…It is a basic hallmark of any democracy that the executive does not interfere in the affairs of the judiciary.”

Singh said that criticising the appointments of Raus and Zulkefli was not wrong, but it was “quite another matter to summon them and demand their resignations.”

So, after getting rid of Raus, Mahathir appointed former Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Richard Malanjum as the ninth Chief Justice (who it then transpired, was a supporter of staunch Mahathir loyalist Shafie Apdal’s Warisan party, campaigning for PH in the Sabah state elections after his retirement in 2019.) Mahathir replaced him with Fairuz’s former special officer Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, as the country’s 10th Chief Justice. She ended up being the presiding (and remains the current) CJ when Mahathir stepped down for the second time.

I was also not surprised by the silence of the overwhelming majority of Najib’s supposed political allies and supporters, who, with the exception of UMNO President Zahid Hamidi, Vice President Mohamad Hasan and secretary general Ahmad Maslan, have all not uttered a word in support of Najib or expressed anger at the way Najib appears to have been railroaded.

But what I was really surprised at, was the fact that the various international judicial and human rights organisations have remained silent.

I am sure they are all fully aware of the fresh evidence Najib was attempting to introduce, which includes an alleged 26-page MACC report (that has now been leaked online) that pretty much shows SRC trial Judge Nazlan Ghazali had allegedly lied about his involvement as Maybank’s legal counsel in the setting up of SRC International and clearly showed the judge’s conflict of interest in Najib’s case.

A translation of Summary of the alleged leaked MACC report states:

4. …there is an offence under Section 220 of the Penal Code(para 2.1 and 2.2 in p/s 24.)

5. This refers to the violation of judicial ethics, which YA Mohd Nazlan has violated if he did not declare his interest and role in this case before exercising his judicial functions and responsibilities(conflict of interests.

6. A judge must not only reduce the risk of judicial conflict but rather as that great maxim of the Judiciary states,”Justice must not only be done, but must also be seen to be done.”

Zaid Ibrahim, a former law minister (that had previously been one of Najib’s political opponents), a founding partner of one of the country’s most respected law firms, and recently one of Najib’s lawyers, said, “I have seen materials and the papers to state categorically that the fresh evidence that he (Najib) was seeking to admit would have had a nuclear effect on the issue of Justice Nazlan Ghazali’s conflict of interest and apparent bias in being the Trial Judge and passing Judgment and sentence on Dato’ Sri Najib.”

“It is beyond belief that the highest Court in the land would deny Dato’ Sri Najib the right to adduce relevant material and necessary evidence to ensure that the truth is established and justice is done. The application was to show how manifestly egregious was the conflict of interest on the part of Justice Nazlan,” he added.

Now, it appears that Attorney General Idrus Harun is unable to verify the authenticity of the leaked MACC report and claims that the MACC papers are not with the Attorney General’s Chambers even though he told the media in May that the AGC was in the midst of examining the MACC papers before deciding. This beggars belief.

As Zaid noted, “It falls on MACC now to confirm or deny the authenticity of the (leaked documents). It also falls on the AG to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…Silence is no longer an option and will lead to a travesty of justice. I call on the AGC and MACC to come forward with the truth once and for all. I am also keen to know what the great defender of justice, the Bar Council, will say to this.”

I am also keen to hear what groups like Human Rights Watch, the International Bar Council and the political secretaries of the various embassies and High Commissions based in Kuala Lumpur will have to say.

These international organisations and diplomats have always followed very closely the political and legal developments in Malaysia and very often expressed “concern” or “worry” about Malaysia’s judicial and political system especially during Anwar Ibrahim’s Sodomy II trial and that of other Opposition leaders. Yet, where are their voices now? Where is their “Concern” and “worry” when it is so blatant that what is transpiring is a political persecution?

Not allowing the submission of new evidence showing a serious conflict of interest within the Judiciary. Insisting that the Counsel who no longer represents the appellant remains the counsel of record, thus leaving the appellant with no real legal representation. Ordering the Prosecution to present its case ahead of the appellant in a Federal Court appeal. Not giving the appellant any time for his new legal team to go through the years of submissions.

Anwar’s trial took over six years and Najib’s has lasted only four years. So, what difference would giving Najib’s legal team a few weeks or months more to be prepared, make in the grand scheme of things?

Aren’t any of these a cause for “concern” and “worry” about Malaysia’s judiciary and Government?

Oh right, I forgot. Najib is not a cause célèbre among many Ampang diplomats and human rights activists. Because regardless of the persecution he is facing, at the end of the day, they aren’t really interested in Justice or Democracy.

Reveal truth about Nazlan probe, Zaid tells MACC and AG

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