Najib’s lawyers prepare for legal action against WSJ

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(July 8): Datuk Seri Najib Razak has begun the legal process to clear his name in a multibillion ringgit scandal which was exposed by business daily The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) last week, The Star reported today.

The prime minister's lawyers were instructed to obtain all facts related to the WSJ report, before deciding on their next course of action against the newspaper.

These include identifying the parties involved in the WSJ report, the jurisdiction of the case and the involvement of conspirators, lawyer Wan Azmir Wan Majid was quoted as saying in The Star report.

"This is not a straightforward legal action due to the national and international imputations. We have been instructed to identify facts and lay full facts, before our client is able to proceed with further instructions," said Wan Azmir on behalf of law firm Messrs Hafarizam Wan & Aisha Mubarak.

"The purpose of clear explanation is to avoid unnecessary objections by the WSJ on the imputations that are made. Once our client has obtained all necessary facts and the position of the WSJ is ascertained, we have strict instructions to immediately exhaust legal avenues and remedies."

Wan Azmir said the first step in establishing the facts was to identify those involved in the authorship, distribution, and publishing of the article, for the purpose of naming the parties in any potential action.

The second issue was that of jurisdiction, as the publication originated from the US and was accessible worldwide, he said.

He said the law firm would pursue further clarification over the WSJ's presence in Malaysia.

Wan Azmir added that Najib instructed his lawyers to consider a joint legal action if the evidence showed a conspiracy against him, as the article involved several parties.

He said the companies named as conspirators with Najib in the article are International Petroleum Investment Co, Tanore Finance Corp, SRC International Sdn Bhd, and Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd.

"Several names of companies or organisations had only been referred to as the related companies or companies belonging to certain organisations or companies, and also the sources or destinations or the alleged transactions have not been disclosed."

"This in itself either intentionally or otherwise has caused further identification of facts been required," he said.

Wan Azmir said once the facts were established, it would "tackle all possible or plausible legal remedies of which our client shall be given advise on an action of defamation, further tortuous actions and remedies including any statutory violations by the WSJ and related companies and (if any) conspirers".

He said they had already examined the article, which revealed that US$700 million (RM2.67 billion) from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) was transferred to Najib's personal bank accounts, just before the 13th general election.

"Combing through the said article, we have concluded that the language is intentionally or otherwise has made reference to several facts and companies which are vaguely described.

"Reference is made to the said article wherein it has been stated that our client had been directly probed into 1MDB, however contents of the article refers to indirect transactions where our client has been implicated with 1MDB-linked companies. A clear contradiction which requires further clarification."

Najib denied he had taken any funds from 1MDB for personal gain and blamed former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for the WSJ report. Dr Mahathir has, in recent months, been calling for Najib's resignation.

The WSJ yesterday posted documents online that allegedly detailed the money trail, after Najib threatened legal action against it.

These documents, said the WSJ, is sourced from a "Malaysian government investigation” include a remittance application form, a cash deposit authorisation letter and charts outlining the flow of money.

In those forms, details of payment were listed as fund transfers for “CSR programmes”.

A task force set up to investigate the claims revealed yesterday it had frozen six bank accounts in its probe so far and had also seized documents linked to 17 bank accounts at two banks for further investigation.

Although the statement issued by the task force did not name the banks involved, nor did it state if any of the accounts belong to the prime minister, sources told The Malaysian Insider that three out of six bank accounts frozen belonged to Najib. – The Malaysian Insider