In a circular issued by the Bar Council to all members of the Bar yesterday, Chief Judge of Malaya Azahar Mohamed directed the transfer of Nazlan from the Kuala Lumpur High Court (Criminal 3) to Kuala Lumpur High Court (NCvC 2), effective March 1.
“The Chief Judge of Malaya, Azahar Mohamed, has extended to us a copy of a directive for change (pertukaran) His Honorable Judge of the High Court of Malaya Bil 2/2021.
A senior member of the Bar, Syed Iskandar Syed Jaafar confirmed that he had received the circular.
The lawyer said the transfer in light of Nazlan’s role in presiding over Najib’s RM42 million SRC International corruption trial would raise eyebrows.
According to Syed Iskandar, the transfer could possibly make the public question whether independence of the judiciary is truly being upheld.
“It is strange for such a transfer to only involve a single judge. We should have instead been on the path to independence of the judiciary with Nazlan’s brave decision,” he said.
When contacted by Malaysiakini, lawyer Chan Yen Hui also confirmed the circular.
On July 28 last year, Nazlan became the first judge in Malaysia to hand down a guilty verdict to a former prime minister, in this case Najib, over seven charges linked to RM42 million of funds from SRC International, a former subsidiary of troubled sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.
He had found the former premier guilty of one count of abuse of power, three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT), and three counts of money laundering.
Nazlan sentenced Najib to a total of 72 years in jail.
On the abuse of power offence, the accused was slapped with a 12-year jail term and fined RM210 million. For the three criminal breach of trust charges, the jail term is 10 years for each offence, and for the three money laundering charges, the jail term is 10 years for each offence. No fines were imposed for the money laundering charges.
However, the former premier would only have to serve 12 years in prison as the judge ordered that the sentences run concurrently.
In the event of a default on the RM210 million fine – which is five times the RM42 million in gratification received by Najib – he would be jailed five more years.
However, Najib’s defence succeeded in obtaining a stay of execution of the sentences, pending disposal of an appeal at the Court of Appeal.
According to a copy of Najib’s petition of appeal, the former premier claimed that he was denied a fair trial in the SRC graft case because of errors allegedly committed by the judge as well as alleged acts of the prosecution.
Other high-profile cases
Nazlan still has a few other high-profile criminal cases that he has yet to conclude hearing prior to the March 1 transfer.
Among them is Najib’s ongoing CBT case involving RM6.6 billion of government funds, which is slated to begin in September this year.
The former premier and co-accused, former treasury secretary-general Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah, face six counts of CBT in the case.
Another 1MDB-linked case that is pending before Nazlan’s criminal court is the government’s US$340 million forfeiture suit against PetroSaudi International Limited and four others.
Outside of 1MDB-linked matters, Nazlan is also set to deliver on Feb 3 his end-of-defence decision of former Felda chairperson Mohd Isa Samad’s corruption case linked to the purchase of Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites (MPHS) by Felda Investment Corporation Sdn Bhd (FICSB).
Nazlan has also granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) to former federal territories minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor on Dec 7 last year in the accused’s RM1 million corruption case after an appeal from the prosecutors who cited that new developments in the case warranted further investigation.
However, two weeks later, Tengku Adnan was found guilty on a RM2 million graft charge by another High Court judge, Mohamed Zaini Mazlan, and was sentenced 12 months’ jail and a fine of RM2 million. Tengku Adnan has since filed an appeal against the decision.
According to judiciary portal kehakiman.gov.my, Nazlan was appointed judicial commissioner on April 10, 2015, and later elevated as High Court judge on Jan 30, 2017.
The 52-year-old judge is an alumnus of the distinguished all-boys residential school, Malay College Kuala Kangsar, Perak, according online portal Says.com.
He pursued a Bachelor of Arts in jurisprudence at the University of Oxford, and later furthered his studies in Master of Arts at the same university.