Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 60

753
- Advertisement - [resads_adspot id="2"]

RM3.2b deposited into Najib’s account between 2011 and 2013.

Najib claims:

  • He was shocked over AmBank’s dealings with Jho Low
  • He returned RM2.5 billion to avoid it being twisted out of context politically
  • He did not know RM3.2 billion was in his account until MACC took his statement
  • He did not know Faisal was an accomplice of Jho Low
  • Saudi King donated millions to him
  • Stepson Riza Aziz first introduced him to Low
  • Low arranged Najib’s meeting with King Abdullah
  • Ex-second finance minister Husni’s accusation that he was treated as a mere “office boy” a comedy
  • Husni giving testimony against him to tarnish his image
  • Husni being vindictive over some grouses Husni had against him, including transferring him out of MoF
  • Former SRC CEO Faisal played him out

Najib denies:

  • Ordering Husni from meddling with 1MDB
  • Having a hand in the decision to appoint Ihsan Perdana as CSR partner to SRC
  • Power to “hire and fire”
  • Move to control SRC board

8.58am: Accused Najib Abdul Razak enters the High Court and takes a seat at the front row of the public gallery to await proceedings to begin.

Seth Akmal/TMI

Also seen in court are Attorney-General Tommy Thomas and other members of the prosecution team, as well as members of the former prime minister’s defence team.

9.14am: Najib enters the witness stand as proceedings begin.

He takes his oath before resuming to read out from his witness statement during examination-in-chief conducted by defence counsel Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed.

9.20am: Aizuddin tells Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali that Shafee will not be present at the start of today’s proceedings.

Aizuddin: Can you refer to D526. What do you know about the meeting between Nor Mohd Yakcop and Finance Ministry officials as stated in the Treasury memo?

Najib: The only thing stated in D526 is Nor Mohd Yakcop and the Finance Ministry didn’t support giving government grants as much as RM650 million to SRC International and decided otherwise on government guarantees for an additional RM2 billion to be given to SRC International. I was satisfied with it, and on that basis, agreed to recommendations by the second finance minister.

9.22am: Najib denies hiding from then second finance minister Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah about the transfer of SRC to the Minister of Finance Inc (MoF Inc).

“What he (Husni) said in court was in regards to the implication of the D524 (Finance Ministry memo) being intentionally hidden from him by me. I can say with confidence that it was not hidden, and I had never ordered anyone to hide it from him.

“It depended on (then Treasury deputy secretary-general) Md Noor Nawi to inform him beforehand in accordance with protocol,” Najib says.

9.40am: Najib, who is also a former finance minister, tells the court that it was “illogical” to suggest that a finance minister should excuse themselves from such discussion which they are participating in a professional capacity.

“The only interest I had was to ensure all decisions related to MoF Inc companies are made in the interest of Malaysia,” says Najib.

“I want to add that a minister of finance had never excused himself from meetings concerning MoF Inc companies because if they did, no one would be there to defend proposals being tabled (in the meeting).

“It is also something illogical to suggest that a finance minister should excuse himself (from a meeting) on his professional interest,” he testifies.

During the earlier part of the trial, the court heard from prosecution witnesses that Najib had sat in Cabinet meetings when proposals for a government guarantee to SRC were tabled for deliberation by federal ministers.

9.43am: The Cabinet is not a mere rubber-stamp body in relation to the approval of two separate government guarantees for a total RM4 billion loan from Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) to SRC, Najib testifies.

While reading from his witness statement, he says this in relation to the Cabinet meetings on Aug 17, 2011, and Feb 8, 2012.

During those two Cabinet meetings, it was alleged that they green-lighted the government guarantees as they were compelled to do so due to SRC having been given specific focus by Najib.

“This is not the way a government operates. To suggest that the Cabinet was a mere rubber-stamping body would definitely be an insult to the members of government administration,” says Najib.

“The Cabinet meetings are marked as ‘Rahsia’ (Confidential) for the purpose of allowing each Cabinet member to speak freely in the interest of the ministry and government as a whole.

“I do not believe that any Cabinet member would shirk their public duty by not airing any opposing views. It is normal for ministers in the Cabinet to air their disagreement with any proposal by the prime minister or any other minister in light of this being the purpose of Cabinet discussion.”

Aizuddin: SRC International applied for another RM2 billion loan from KWAP on March 13, 2012, in a letter to (then CEO) Azian. This letter was sent to KWAP via email by Terrence Geh to KWAP via Azian on March 14, 2012. Are you aware of these documents?

Najib: No. I was, however, informed that SRC International had applied for an additional loan of RM2 billion from KWAP based on a second government guarantee.

Aizuddin: How did you come to know of SRC International’s request for a second RM2 billion loan from KWAP?

Najib: I don’t remember specifically.

9.59am: The lawyer cites a letter from SRC.

Aizuddin: A letter from SRC International states, in Paragraph 2, that “the finance minister has hereby approved and advised that the company shall procure from KWAP a further RM2 billion term financing facility based on the same terms and conditions as Facility Agreement 1, and secured by a second government guarantee. The company’s board of directors has also approved and endorsed this”. What are your comments?

Najib: I do not think I gave an approval. However, I remember that I informed (former KWAP chairman) Wan Abdul that the importance of SRC International would be well communicated if KWAP agreed to lend a further RM2 billion on the same terms as the first loan. This, I believe, happened at a meeting I attended with Wan Abdul, Azian and Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah in mid-March 2012 after KWAP agreed to provide financing.

Aizuddin: Paragraph 5 of the SRC International letter (P383) states that the initial investment by SRC International was made with the original RM2 billion facility. The letter continues to show that all such investments “are approved and endorsed by the board of directors of the company and…prime minister”. Are you aware of the SRC International investment as stated in this paragraph, and did you give your consent for that investment?

Najib: I was informed about investments by SRC International in Malaysia, the joint venture with Aabar, and other initiatives by SRC International in general. Other investments are the same as outlined in the cabinet paper (D527B). At the time P383 was issued, the cabinet itself had taken note of the matter.

10.05am: Najib claims that he had written a letter ordering the appointment of then-Treasury deputy secretary-general Md Nor Nawi as an adviser to SRC International to take into effect.

According to his testimony, Najib had written the letter following a decision made in a meeting in March 2012 between then-Treasury secretary-general Wan Abdul Aziz Wan Abdullah, his deputy Irwan Serigar Abdullah and then CEO of Retirement Fund Incorporated, Azian Mohd Noh, where they suggested Md Nor to be appointed to the position.

Abdul Aziz, Irwan and Azian had held the meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office to discuss an application by SRC to allow it to disburse a RM2 billion loan from KWAP at one go instead of a prior agreement for it to be disbursed in stages.

“I still remember issuing a letter to put into effect the appointment (of Md Nor), but I don’t remember when,” says Najib.

10.08am: Defence attorney Aizuddin pauses his examination-in-chief on Najib as the defence team passes some exhibits in the trial to the former premier, who is testifying in his defence from the witness box.

When the lawyer was about to continue with the 130th question in Najib’s witness statement, he noticed something and asked if Najib was okay.

The politician was then heard saying: “Sejuk” (it’s cold”) while doing a gesture like he is loosely hugging himself.

They then continue with the examination.

10.07am: Najib says he knew the KWAP’s Investment Panel had agreed to approve an application by SRC to have its second tranche of RM2 billion loan disbursed at one go.

He says that from his understanding, SRC had given the necessary justification why they needed the funds disbursed quickly.

10.24am: Najib denies urging for an insertion of Article 117 into SRC International’s memorandum and articles of association (M&A) so that he can exert control over the company’s board, the High Court hears.

He says this while reading out from his witness statement, whereby the question in the said statement was on whether he had ever proposed or urged for the amendment of SRC’s M&A.

Previously, the court heard that Article 117 compels SRC’s board to consider Najib’s advice, as then advisor emeritus to SRC, over material and strategic matters, among others.

“No. My understanding is that the advice by advisor emeritus was limited to matters laid out under Article 117 and not to SRC’s operations and other matters. In any event, any advice given was merely to be considered by the board.

“The board is not bound to follow any advice and need to act in the best interest of the company as stated in my letter (P512) (this refers to a court exhibit),” Najib says.

He also adds that he could not see how Article 117 can be said to allow him to control SRC, among others.

10.28am: Aizuddin asks whether matters related to SRC’s investments and operations were reported to Najib.

Najib: In some situations, I met (former SRC CEO) Nik Faisal (Ariff Kamil) and he gave simple briefings on matters related to SRC International and its operations. After Azahar Osman Khairuddin took over as CEO and president, I met him several times (to talk about) SRC International. Nik Faisal played out both SRC International and me.

10.37am: Najib dismisses as not making sense an allegation that he has power to hire and fire any SRC directors.

He says this regarding the allegation by SRC’s former chairperson Ismee Ismail and its ex-director Suboh Md Yassin, that he had such “hire and fire” power.

“This matter does not make sense. The power to hire or fire any director is normally in the hands of the company’s shareholder.

“As I understand about the principle of corporate governance, this does not take over the legal requirement regulatory and statutory of directors to act in the best interest of the company,” Najib testifies.

He is referring to previous testimonies of Ismee and Suboh during the prosecution stage of the RM42 million SRC trial.

10.48am: Najib denies having a hand in the decision to appoint Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd (IPSB) as a corporate social responsibility partner to SRC and a RM250 million allocation channelled to IPSB.

He also disputes an earlier testimony by Suboh, where the latter claimed ex-CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil had told him the decision was made by Najib albeit without approval from the SRC board of directors.

“This is something that is really hard to be believed. Suboh was one of SRC directors who surely knows about its corporate governance procedures,” says Najib.

“How could he just ignore these based only on what was represented by Nik Faisal? I had never been informed about IPSB appointment or the allocation of RM250 million (to IPSB).”

Najib added that he also could not understand how two SRC directors (Suboh and Nik Faisal) could sign the RM250 million allocation grant without approval from the board of directors.

According to Najib, Nik Faisal was also no longer the CEO of SRC when the document was signed in Sept 2014.

10.57am: Aizuddin asks Najib about 14 banking transactions between 2014 and 2015, which saw a total of RM123 million transferred from SRC to IPSB.

The monies were transferred in 14 transactions.

Najib then tells the court that he had no knowledge of the transactions during the material time.

11am: Court calls for a brief break.

11.34am: Court resumes.

11.42am: Najib denies having ordered then second finance minister Husni from getting involved in 1MDB.

In reading out from his witness statement, Najib says this in relation to Husni’s previous testimony during this trial that the accused had given the order.

“I have never told Husni that. The documents produced in this trial in relation to SRC clearly shows that Husni was referred and also approved several important memos as MOF2 (second finance minister), including a Finance Ministry Memo dated Feb 2, 2012 (D526 exhibit number) and Treasury Memo dated Nov 4, 2015, in relation to the allocation for short-term loan to SRC in 2015 (exhibit number D551).

“Husni’s accusation that he was treated as a mere “office boy” is a comedy in light of his signature as MOF2 which showed the opposite,” says Najib.

“Husni also attended the Cabinet meeting on Feb 8, 2012, where the second government guarantee (for Retirement Fund Inc or KWAP’s RM2 billion loan to SRC) was approved and (Husni) did not raise any issue.”

Bernama

11.45am: Najib’s defence lawyer gets into an area of questioning revolving around the testimony of Husni.

Najib claims that Husni’s testimony – saying that Najib had barred Husni from going to Switzerland to check on SRC’s bank account – had been taken out of context.

For the record, SRC’s bank account in Switzerland had been frozen by the country’s authorities over alleged money laundering offences.

“I believe this matter had been taken out of context. Husni did ask me informally whether he should go to Switzerland to try to solve the issue. This was not an official nor a formal request,” says Najib.

“He actually said that he could try and settle this matter as he knew several individuals in Switzerland who could help. I told him that there was no need for him to go there as, from my understanding, there were already efforts by SRC to address the problem,” Najib testifies.

He adds that it was Husni who approved a Treasury Note in 2015 that requested the Cabinet to approve a short-term loan for SRC so that the company can sort out its problem with the Swiss government.

Najib then accuses Husni of giving such testimony against him with the intention to tarnish his image and being vindictive over some grouses that Husni had against him, including transferring the latter to the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) in 2016.

Najib then alleges that Husni had used the court as a stage to get back at him.

“I believe that Husni had kept his dissatisfaction against me over my decision to transfer him from MoF to the EPU, as he had immediately resigned after that in 2016.

“And he had used the witness box as a stage to air his grouses openly,” Najib testifies.

According to Najib, Husni had wanted to stay in MoF.

“If Husni truly felt that he was being treated as an office boy, it is surely very odd that he wanted to continue in MOF. This shows a contradiction between what he said in the witness box and what was his real experience”.

12.01pm: Aizuddin asks when Najib was first introduced to Jho Low.

Najib: I first met him around 2007. He was introduced to me by my stepson, Riza Aziz. I believe Riza met Low through the latter’s brother, Tiek Sin. I was also told that Low had private investment funds.

Low was the one who arranged my meeting with King Abdullah Abdulaziz Al-Saud during my visits to Riyadh and Jeddah, adds Najib.

Twitter

12.11pm: Najib testifies that it was Low who told him in 2010 that the then Saudi King, King Abdullah, agreed to give donations between US$100 million (RM418m) and US$200 million (RM836m) to him, as a form of support.

While reading from his witness statement, Najib says that at that time, he was not informed how much specifically it would be or when it would be done, but later Low told him further details on the donation.

“After that, between 2011 and 2014, I received a huge amount which I believe was a donation from King Abdullah as a sign of support from his majesty.

“JL (acronym for Jho Low) was the go-between in the matter and I believed that he arranged the allocation of the donations from the Saudi Arabian royal family.

“Several letters on this donation were also received by AmBank (where Najib’s accounts were) and myself from JL at that time in line with the donations,” Najib says.

On whether he was surprised by the large amount of donations, Najib says it may look large, but the Saudi royal family are known for their generosity, whereby they had donated large monies to various foundations in the United States such as the Clinton Foundation.

Najib also says this is seen in the Saudi Royal family’s donation to other countries like Egypt, Pakistan, and Palestine, as part of its foreign policy and diplomatic policy.

12.47pm: Najib says by end of 2010, Low told him that the donation will be coming soon.

Najib’s late private secretary suggested that he open a bank account to receive the funds, which he did as he wanted to use the funds for CSR initiatives.

Low recommended AmBank where he introduced Najib to Cheah Teck Kuang, the Ambank managing director. Najib agreed and told Low to make the necessary arrangements.

12.50pm: Cheah met Najib at his Langgak Duta residence in mid-January 2011 where he signed some forms to open the account.

Najib says he told Cheah that he was expecting to receive donations about US$100 million to US$200 million from the Saudi royal family.

12.57pm: Cheah told Najib since he was expecting a huge amount in foreign currency, reports and permission must be obtained from Bank Negara.

Najib says he told Cheah to ensure that all rules and regulations were complied with and necessary reporting made.

Two accounts were opened under Najib’s name, ending in -694 and -481.

1pm: When asked if he applied for a credit card, Najib replies that he can’t remember but Cheah said Ambank gave credit cards to all ‘VIP’ customers.

1.07pm: Aizuddin asks Najib if Cheah informed to Azman Hashim (AmBank Group chairman) and Zeti Akhtar Aziz (BNM governor at the time) about the accounts and expected donations.

Najib: No, I was not informed. But at one point when I was talking with Tan Sri Zeti, I directly told her about the donation that what I was expecting. She told me that she was informed about it.

Najib tells the court that he had never dealt with AmBank relationship managers Joanna Yu, Daniel Lee and Krystal Yap, nor that he ever communicated with them personally.

For the record, Yu, Lee and Yap were tasked with managing Najib’s AmBank accounts.

Najib also denies that he had ever given any authority to Low to deal with AmBank over his account management.

1.08pm: Court breaks for lunch.

2.28pm: Court resumes.

2.44pm: Najib denies knowing Faisal personally. He says Azlin told him that Faisal is trusted.

2.52pm: Najib says he knew Faisal was made 1MDB chief investment officer but can’t recall when he was informed about it.

Najib: I never knew Nik Faisal had worked with Jho Low. I knew about it only after it was reported in the news.

He says this while reading out an answer from his prepared witness statement to a question in said statement, in regards to whether he knew that Faisal was a close accomplice of Low since 2008 at UBG Bhd.

Faisal was alleged to have known Low while the former worked at UBG Bhd in 2008.

Wan Aizuddin: How do you monitor the balance of account 694?

Najib: Datuk Azlin will keep me informed. He will tell me that money had been deposited into the account from overseas in US dollars.

3.17pm: Najib says King Abdullah donated US$680 million (RM2.8 billion) to him to avert the spill-over effect from the Arab Spring that rocked the Middle East.

He says this while reading from his prepared witness statement in reply to a question contained in the said statement on whether he knew about transactions into his ‘694’ AmBank account that totalled US$680,999,976 between March 22, 2013, and April 10, 2013.

Najib says he only knew about the transactions when his statement was recorded by MACC and after his lawyer obtained documents from AmBank.

He claims that he was not only informed that there was money that came into his account from outside the country but that he was shown a letter dated March 1, 2013, purportedly from a representative of King Abdullah.

King Abdullah feared the domino effect from the Arab Spring that could have rocked Malaysia economically and politically, says Najib.

Najib testifies that he is not aware of communication via Blackberry Messenger between Joanna Yu and Jho Low between 2011 and 2013. This he says regarding his ‘694’ account in AmBank.

“No. I have no knowledge of this matter. As I have said about what I believed, Jho Low was an individual that managed the donations given to me by the Saudi royal family,” says Najib.

“Azlin Alias (Najib’s then-chief private secretary) may have had dealings with Jho Low in relation to the donations. I do not know about the communication between Jho Low and Joanna Yu at that time.”

Wan Aizuddin: What is Datuk Seri’s opinion on the fact that the money was transferred by Tanore?

Najib: At that time, I believed that Tanore was a company connected to the Saudi government or the Saudi royal family, as stated in the letter dated March 1, 2013.

3.30pm: Najib testifies that he returned US$620 million (RM2.5 billion) of unutilised donation because he wanted to avoid the matter being twisted out of context politically.

The accused says this while reading out his answer from his prepared witness statement to a question in the same statement over whether he completely utilised the whole money he received in his ‘694’ account in 2013.

“I also felt uncomfortable with having so much money in my account due to a worry that if the information was leaked, it would surely have been twisted out of context politically.

“I then decided to return almost the entire amount of the donation that was not spent and only keep part of it.

“I believe that in returning the large portion of the unutilised donation by me is a sign of goodwill to the Saudi royal family, which would be taken into account by them in giving future support to me.

“In the end, around US$620 million was returned to the sender of the funds, Tanore Finance Corp, and the reminder of RM162 million was transferred to one of the new accounts that was opened by me in August 2013,” Najib says.

Aizuddin: Why US$620 million specifically?

Najib: I didn’t decide on that. I told Azlin to return RM2 billion.

Najib says he instructed Azlin to liaise with Faisal to return the unused funds.

“I can’t recall the exact date but was told that in August 2013, the unused US$620 million was transferred to Tanore.”

3.47pm: Najib tells the court that it is a shock to him to learn that AmBank had dealt with Jho Low over matters related to his bank accounts.

He also testifies that he never knew that Faisal, who was entrusted to manage his accounts, had taken instructions from Low over transactions to return donations from the Saudi royal family to Tanore.

Najib says this when answering a prepared question by his lawyer Rahmat Hazlan.

Rahmat: The BBM chat between Jho Low and Joanna Yu shows that Jho Low was in contact with Joanna to get approval for the foreign exchange transactions in returning the funds to Tanore Finance Corporation. Four letters from Nik Faisal were prepared by Joanna under the instructions of Jho Low. Did you give this power (to Jho Low)?

Najib: No. I did not have any knowledge regarding this. As I mentioned earlier, I have passed this matter to Azlin.

I am shocked why the bank would contact Jho Low when he was not given authority in whatever means by me.

I also did not realise that Faisal had been taking instructions from Low on this matter.

3.58pm: Court adjourns for the day and will continue on Monday.


Earlier reports:

Dec 3, Najb’s SRC Trial: Day 59

Dec 3, Najib’s Day in Court

Aug 27, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 58

Aug 23, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 57

Aug 22, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 56

Aug 20, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 55

Aug 19, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 54

Aug 14, SRC Trial Postponed as Najib Down with Sore Eyes

Aug 13, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 52

Aug 9, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 51

Aug 7, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 50

Aug 6, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 49

Aug 5, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 48

Aug 1, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 47

July 31, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 46

July 29, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 45

July 25, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 44

July 24, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 43 Vacated

July 23, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 42

July 22, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 41

July 18, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 40

July 17, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 39

July 16, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 38

July 15, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 37

July 11, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 36

July 10, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 35

July 9, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 34

July 8, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 33

July 3, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 32

July 3, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 31

July 1, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 30

June 20, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 29

June 19, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 28

June 18, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 27

June 17, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 26

June 14, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 25

June 13, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 24

June 12, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 23

June 11, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 22

June 10, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 21

May 28, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 20

May 27, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 19

May 15, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 18

May 14, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 17

May 9, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 16

May 8, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 15

May 7, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 14

May 7, Najib Fails in Second Bid to Remove Sri Ram as 1MDB Lead Prosecutor

May 7, Najib Signed Guarantee Letter for RM2B KWAP Loan to SRC, KWAP Rules Breached

May 6, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 13

May 2, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 12

May 2, RM1M Golden Handshake in Final Month as PM for Najib

Apr 30, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 11

Apr 29, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 10

Apr 29, Court Throws Out Najib’s Application to Strike Out 7 SRC Charges, Trial to Go On

Apr 25, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day Nine

Apr 24, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day Eight

Apr 24, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day Seven

Apr 22, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day Six

Apr 18, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day Five

Apr 17, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day Four

Apr 16, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day Three

Apr 15, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day Two

Apr 3, Najib Trial: Day One