Rosmah’s Bribe Trial: Day 24

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Rosmah’s ex-aide did not hold back as he laid bare everything which happened during his tenure working for the accused.

Revelations:

  • Rizal gave a detailed account on his role in helping Rosmah secure kickbacks for helping Jepak Holdings get the over-billion-ringgit contact
  • Rosmah received RM6.5 million which was delivered  in two tranches
  • Rosmah paid RM100k cash monthly to cybertroopers tasked with safeguarding her reputation
  • Rosmah wanted media coverage for all activities that could increase her popularity and image
  • Rosmah entrusted Rizal with collecting gifts and funds given by individuals, entrepreneurs and contractors
  • Rizal rewarded with Datukship even though he was just a Grade N48 officer
  • Everyone in the civil service and government agencies feared the FLOM unit due to Rosmah’s reputation
  • Any request from FLOM unit was carried out without any bureaucratic hindrance
  • Officers feared being put in cold storage or transferred far away if they did not do what they were told
  • Rosmah looked upon as a fierce woman and capable of influencing Najib’s decisions and actions
  • Najib respected Rosmah’s views
  • Voices in “Can I advise you something” recording identified as Najib’s and Rosmah’s

Datuk Rizal Mansor identified himself to the High Court today as Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor’s “special officer”, after his exact designation in the government was repeatedly questioned by the trial’s defence.

Prior to Rizal taking the stand as the 21st prosecution witness, Rosmah’s lawyers had repeatedly posited to prior witnesses that Rizal was never her special officer.

Rizal started his 46-page witness statement by stating that he was a Business Management graduate from the Multimedia Universiti and had worked as a press secretary to two former ministers before joining TV3 as a senior corporate communications executive.

He stated that he was hired into a special department under the Prime Minister Department, dubbed the “First Lady of Malaysia” (Flom) office, when Datuk Seri Najib Razak was sworn in as the prime minister in 2009.

Having experience with the media industry, Rizal stated that he was to handle media relations for Rosmah when he was attached to Flom.

He said his main tasks included ensuring Rosmah got maximum media publicity for everything she did, and counter negative news published about her.

While Rizal explained that his exact designation often changed during his tenure from 2009 to the middle of 2018, his responsibilities remained as special officer to Rosmah — aiding her in dealing with media relations, arranging her daily and weekly schedule, among other responsibilities.

“My contract was for two years and was renewed for two years until the middle of 2018. Within the same period the name of my designation often changed, such as special officer, special functions officer, assistant special functions officer and the title of my last designation is special division principal assistant director.

“However, my responsibilities remained that of a special officer to the prime minister’s wife. At one point, this division changed its name to ‘special division’ but I myself often referred to it as Flom,’’ he said, adding further that his salary, during his tenure, was fully borne by the government.

Rosmah received RM6.5 million delivered in two tranches

Rizal said he had personally delivered RM5 million to then prime minister Najib’s official residence in Putrajaya in December 2016, while another RM1.5 million was delivered to their private residence on Jalan Langgak Duta, Kuala Lumpur by Jepak Holdings’ managing director Saidi Abang Samsuddin.

On the first payment of RM5 million, Rizal said Saidi had contacted him and told him that he was ready to make the payment as promised to Rosmah.

Rizal said the RM5 million was part of the RM187.5 million that was agreed to be given to Rosmah over a period of five years for helping Jepak Holdings secure the solar project.

He said a day before delivery, Saidi had asked him for an escort after the RM5 million was withdrawn from a bank in Medan Tuanku, which was then taken to Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur.

Saidi wanted an escort as he was afraid to be carrying a huge amount of cash, Rizal told the court.

The money was to be given to a consultant, Lawrence Tee, who was tasked to prepare a consultancy agreement between Jepak Holdings and a Taiwanese company to “legalise” the political donation.

Rizal said on the day the money was withdrawn, he had arranged for an escort to follow Saidi and he also personally went to Pavilion with a friend to monitor the situation.

Rizal said while he was there, he saw Saidi arriving and bringing two big luggage into Pavilion Tower with the help of his driver and the escort he had introduced.

A few minutes later, he received a call from Saidi informing that Lawrence refused to accept the money.

“Lawrence looked uncomfortable and said he did not dare accept such a huge amount. He looked determined not to accept the money,” the witness said.

At this point, Rizal called Rosmah to explain what had transpired.

“Rosmah instructed me to have the cash delivered to her official residence in Seri Perdana,” he said.

Rizal said he followed Rosmah’s instructions, loaded the bags into his car and headed to Seri Perdana.

When he arrived at the prime minister’s official residence, two butlers were already waiting, and they took the bags into the house.

“When I entered the house, Rosmah was with the bags.

Bernama

“She then asked me ‘how much?’ and I answered ‘five’.

“She did not open the bags but instructed the butlers to take them into her room,” Rizal told the court.

A few days after delivering the RM5 million, Rizal asked Rosmah if she was satisfied with the amount received, to which she replied she needed a lot of money for “political purposes”.

“She also told me more or less ‘be smart and ask them to take care of you’, in which the ‘them’ she referred to was Saidi and his business partner Rayyan Radzwill Abdullah,” he said.

Rizal, who had received RM500,000 from the agreed RM25 million from Saidi, said Rosmah had no knowledge of his personal dealings with Saidi and Rayyan.

He also said Rosmah frequently asked him about the remaining payments Jepak was supposed to make because she had only received RM5 million from the agreed RM32.5 million for the first year.

In early September 2017, Rizal said there was a meeting between Saidi, Rayyan and Rosmah at her Langgak Duta residence.

Rizal said Saidi arranged the meeting to deliver RM1.5 million, a portion from the agreed sum for the year.

Upon arriving at the residence, Rizal said Saidi instructed his driver to place two bags containing the cash into the living room.

“The meeting between them lasted around five minutes and after the meeting ended, I witnessed Rosmah instructing her butlers to take both bags that Saidi brought into her room,” he said.

Fleeing to Jakarta after GE14, feared MACC action

Rizal revealed how he felt invincible even after a businessman who had arranged for bribes to be paid to him and his boss threatened to expose everything back in 2018.

Datuk Rizal Mansor said at that time he knew nothing would happen as Rosmah was then the Prime Minister’s wife.

The 45-year-old key witness in Rosmah’s trial said he found out that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had started investigating Jepak Holdings managing director Saidi Abang Samsuddin over a RM1.25 billion project sometime in February or March of 2018.

He said the graft busters were alerted to the scandal when Saidi’s business partner Rayyan Radzwill Abdullah lodged a report after the latter was not paid his share of the loot.

Rizal said Rayyan once sent him a few WhatsApp messages saying that he wanted to inform Rosmah about what had happened.

However, Rizal said he told Rayyan to sort out whatever problems he had with Saidi.

Rayyan, he said, became angry after that and threatened to expose everyone, including how Rosmah and Najib, and others were involved in the dealings which led to Saidi’s company being awarded the project.

“I remember Rayyan even threatened me that he would ensure I ended up in jail.

“However, at that time I feared nothing…I never thought any investigation would lead to me and Rosmah because she was the Prime Minister’s wife.”

All this changed just months later, after the 14th General Election was held, and the new government took over.

“Following the 14th general election and a revelation by Sarawak Report, I was investigated about my involvement in the award of the project,” he said.

Rizal said he panicked upon learning that Saidi and Rayyan were picked up by the MACC.

“I decided to pack my bags and flee to Jakarta.

“The MACC contacted me to turn myself in, but I asked them for some time. I eventually decided that I could not run forever and decided to return to Malaysia.

“I was subsequently detained and remanded for six days before being charged with four counts of corruption,” he said.

The prosecution has, however, dropped all charges against Rizal after turning him into a witness against Rosmah.

Rosmah gave RM100,000 monthly for cybertroopers to protect her image and reputation

Rizal also revealed in detail how the prime minister’s office (PMO) set up the First Lady of Malaysia (FLOM) division specifically for her immediately after her husband was appointed prime minister in 2009.

Rizal also explained why she used to be feared by civil servants and government agencies throughout the country at that time.

Most shockingly, he admitted being paid RM100,000 cash monthly by Rosmah just to manage a team of cybertroopers tasked with safeguarding her reputation.

The cybertroopers, he said, were responsible for monitoring and countering negative and critical news about Rosmah in the social media.

He revealed that Rosmah instructed him to form a team of cybertroopers in 2012 to deflect and counter negative news about her.

“She paid me RM100,000 cash every month to finance the operations of the cybertroopers.

“Most of the negative news involving Rosmah centred around her expensive handbags and the lavish wedding of her daughter.

“There were also stories about how she misused the government jet and how anyone who wanted to get government contracts needed to see her first,” he said.

According to Rizal, the allegations were constantly reported and sensationalised by the then opposition.

Rizal claimed Rosmah was very conscious about her image.

“She puts priority in her image, reputation, and people’s perception of her status as the prime minister’s wife.

“Rosmah always wanted publicity and media coverage for her activities,” he testified.

Rizal testified that Rosmah’s desire for publicity was not limited to the welfare programmes she attended.

“Rosmah also wanted media coverage for all activities that could increase her popularity and improve her image as the prime minister’s wife in the eyes of the public.

“The FLOM division, including myself, also needed to manage and ensure such publicity was done for Rosmah.

“Rosmah would often contact me to get updates on news about her and also a bit about the current political situation.

“She would turn to me as a reference every time negative news about her was circulated. Rosmah put her high trust in me to manage and address such controversies,” he claimed.

Rosmah, he said, was also accused of being the boss who even Najib had to report to as she was the real Prime Minister of Malaysia then.

“All these reports eventually became a real liability to the prime minister’s image and the PMO then instructed the FLOM division to scale down publicity surrounding Rosmah in the media.”

Rizal said his relationship with Rosmah later became very close and she started trusting him with other personal and secret tasks.

This included collecting gifts and funds given to her by certain individuals, entrepreneurs and contractors.

“I ended up being rewarded with a Datukship in 2014 even though I was just a Grade N48 officer. Such title is usually reserved for officers in grade 54 and above,” he said.

Rosmah looked upon as fierce wife of the PM

Touching on Rosmah’s influence on the civil service and government agencies, he said everyone used to fear and respect the FLOM unit due to her reputation.

She was looked upon as a fierce woman and capable of influencing her husband’s decisions and actions.

“Any request from FLOM was carried out without any bureaucratic hindrance.

“Officers feared being put in cold storage or transferred far away from their homes towns if they did not do what they were told,” he said as Rosmah listened intently from the dock.

NST

Rizal said that at that time, he regarded the negative description of Rosmah as inaccurate and merely rumours which were intended to paint a bad image of her among the civil servants.

“As the special officer to Datin Seri Rosmah, I always defended her,”’ he said, adding that he also always saw how Rosmah communicated with Najib and noticed that Najib respected Rosmah’s views.

Rizal, who was previously jointly charged with Rosmah, was later asked an additional question by lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram on whether he had cut a deal to give false evidence against the accused.

To this, Rizal said he had never been offered any such deal.

The defence team will start cross-examination of the witness on Monday.

“Can I advise you something” recording played during trial

The purported 1MDB-linked audio recording conversation between Najib and his wife was played in court today.

Sri Ram had been allowed by the Kuala Lumpur High Court to play the audio recording for the purpose of identification by Rizal.

As the audio recording played, a voice which is purportedly Rosmah’s is heard saying loudly: “Can I advise you on something?”

A voice resembling that of Najib could be heard replying: “Hang on…anything?”

After the audio clip ended, Sri Ram asked Rizal who were the voices heard on the audio, and the witness replied they were Najib’s and Rosmah’s.

Sri Ram: Can you identify the male voice?

Rizal: Najib.

Sri Ram: Can you identify the female voice?

Rizal: Rosmah.

Sri Ram: You confirm that the male voice is Najib and the female voice is the accused?

Rizal: Yes.

Sri Ram: You hear no other voices?

Rizal: Only the two.

Rosmah is on trial for soliciting RM187.5 million and two counts of receiving bribes totalling RM6.5 million from Saidi.

The bribes were allegedly received through Rizal as a reward for helping Jepak Holdings secure the RM1.25 billion solar hybrid project for 369 schools in the interior of Sarawak.

Rosmah was accused of committing the offences between January 2016 and Sept 2017.

The trial continues tomorrow in front of judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan.


Earlier reports:

Aug 19, Rosmah’s Bribe Trial: Day 23

Aug 18, Rosmah’s Bribe Trial: Day 22

Aug 17, Rosmah’s Bribe Trial: Day 21

Aug 5, Rosmah’s Bribe Trial: Day 20

Aug 4, Rosmah’s Bribe Trial: Day 19

Aug 3, Rosmah’s bribe trial: Day 18

Jul 15. Rosmah’s Bribe Trial: Day 17

Jul 14, Rosmah’s Bribe Trial: Day 16

Jul 13, Rosmah’s Bribe Trial: Day 15

Mar 12, Rosmah’s Bribe Trial: Day 14

Mar 11, Rosmah’s Bribe Trial: Day 13

Mar 10, Rosmah’s Bribe Trial: Day 12

Mar 9, Rosmah’s Bribe Trial: Day 11

Mar 9, Rosmah’s Ex-Aide Rizal Mansor Now in Witness Protection

Feb 20, Rosmah’s Bribe Trial: Day Ten

Feb 20, Witness Tells Rosmah’s Trial Jepak MD Gave RM5 Million to “RM”

Feb 19, Rosmah’s Bribe Trial: Day Nine

Feb 18, Rosmah’s Bribe Trial: Day Eight

Feb 18, Rosmah’s Lawyer Tears into Madinah’s Testimony

Feb 17, Rosmah’s Bribe Trial: Day Seven

Feb 17, Ex-Education Ministry Sec-Gen: Business Partners Fought over RM1.2B Solar Project

Feb 13, Rosmah’s Bribe Trial: Day Six

Feb 13, Mahdzir Denies Hiring Lawyer to Broker Deal with AGC

Feb 12, Rosmah’s Bribe Trial: Day Five

Feb 12, Rosmah’s Refusal to Leave Accused Dock During Lunch Break Prompts Early Adjournment

Feb 11, Rosmah’s Defence Alleges Mahdzir Private Jets to Macau, Spore, Perth to Gamble

Feb 11, Rosmah’s Defence Lawyer Paints Ex-Minister Mahdzir as Corrupt

Feb 10, Rosmah’s Bribe Trial: Day Three

Feb 10, Ex-Minister Tells Rosmah’s Trial: I Wasn’t Bribed, Simply Followed Najib’s Orders

Feb 6, Rosmah’s Bribe Trial: Day Two

Feb 6, Driver Delivered Bags of Cash to Rosmah’s House

Feb 6, Rosmah Allegedly Pressured Ex-Minister to Award Project to Jepak

Feb 5, Rosmah’s Bribe Trial: Day One

Feb 5, Rosmah’s Lawyer Cries Intimidation over MACC’s Probe of Doctor Who Issued MC

Feb 5, RM6M Bribe in RM100 Bills

Feb 5, Rosmah’s Controversial FLOM Division Rebranded After Public Criticism

Feb 5, DPP: Overbearing Rosmah Wielded Considerable Influence