Malaysia’s Court of Appeal has unanimously dismissed former Prime Minister Najib Razak’s appeal to overturn his conviction in the SRC International corruption case, and upheld the High Court’s verdict against him.
Najib was sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined 210 million ringgit ($50 million) last year after being found guilty of transferring 42 million ringgit ($9.9 million) from SRC International, a former unit of 1Malaysia Development Bhd, into his bank accounts.
He faced seven charges encompassing criminal breach of trust, abuse of power, and money laundering, but pleaded not guilty to all charges and denied any wrongdoing.
Court of Appeal Judge Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, who led the three-member appeal bench, said members agreed unanimously with the High Court’s decision to convict Najib of all seven charges and sentencing, and dismissed Najib’s appeal against his conviction.
“There is no national interest here, just a national embarrassment,” Abdul Karim told the court on Dec. 8.
The judge also said the evidence showed that Najib knew or had reason to believe that the funds in his accounts were proceeds of illegal activities and had failed to take steps to determine them as such.
The court, however, granted Najib’s request for a stay of execution, allowing him to be released on bail pending his appeal to the Federal Court.
Speaking at a virtual briefing after the verdict, Najib expressed his disappointment with the court’s decision and maintained that he was unaware of the 42 million ringgit transferred to his bank account from SRC International.
“I did not know, and I did not ask, and I did not order anyone to move the 42 million ringgit to my account,” he remarked. Najib’s stint as prime minister ended in 2018 after his former mentor Mahathir Mohamad won a majority in the elections.
A day before the hearing, Najib’s lawyers issued a letter to the Court of Appeal, requesting that the hearing be postponed because a member of Najib’s legal team had tested positive for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes the disease COVID-19.
“We humbly seek for this honorable court to vacate the hearing date (of Najib’s bid to adduce new evidence) on Dec 7, 2021 (today), and the decision date on Dec 8, 2021 (Wednesday) in light of what has happened,” the statement reads, according to state media Malaysiakini.
The court denied the request and ordered the hearings to resume via Zoom when Najib’s bailor, who was present during the proceedings on Dec. 7, failed to answer the panel’s question on his client’s whereabouts.
Reuters contributed to this report.