Ex-1MDB chair regrets not confronting Najib

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Bakke uncomfortable informing Najib about irregularities.

Ex-1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) chairman Mohd Bakke Salleh told the High Court today that he regrets not confronting Najib Razak over irregularities in the handling of 1MDB funds.

Bakke, taking the witness stand, said he should have informed the former prime minister about the irregularities, but felt uncomfortable doing so.

“As a board member, I was uncomfortable about the remittance (of US$700 million (RM3 billion) to Good Star Ltd) and that prompted me to resign. I even wanted to resign on the spot.

“I was uncomfortable about telling the prime minister. It was like saying I have suspicions about you, (but) I should have done that.

Shafwan Zaidon

“I should have been prepared to do that even if he was the prime minister. I should (have been) bold enough. I should have stuck out my neck.”

He was responding to lead prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram, who asked the former why he did not lodge a complaint to the Finance Ministry over the irregularities when he resigned.

Bakke, along with board member Azlan Mohd Zainol, resigned in protest of the remittance of the funds in 2009.

Najib’s lawyer, Mohamed Shafee Abdullah, during cross-examination, asked Bakke if he took “the easy way out” by resigning instead of addressing the controversies.

“You could have expressed all your frustration and fact findings and officially sent the complaint to the prime minister, but you chose not to.

“If you had, these issues would not have culminated, correct?”

Bakke disagreed with the statement.

Shafee told Bakke that he could have given the head of government a report to air his dissatisfaction.

Bakke said he could have done that, but added that the responsibility does not fall only on his shoulders but also other members of the board.

Bakke also revealed how he had told Najib that it was best for him not to testify before the 2016 Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) inquiry if he was required to sugar-coat things involving 1MDB.

“The PM (prime minister) told me that he just wanted to make sure the way we responded to the PAC questions would be in harmony….some kind of agreement that, I would say is acceptable to the prime minister.

“However, I told him that his concerns would be allayed if I was not called to testify at all, because by not appearing I don’t say anything…but he said it is too late, you still have to appear.”

Bakke said he was also told to essentially blame irregularities in 1MDB on the 1MDB management.

The trial will resume on June 7.

Najib is on trial for misappropriating RM2.28 billion of 1MDB funds. He faces 25 charges of abuse of power and money laundering for offences committed between 2011 and 2013.