Datuk Seri Najib Razak refused to approve an official government-led delegation to Switzerland when RM3 billion belonging to SRC International Sdn Bhd was frozen by the Swiss government over alleged money-laundering offences in 2013, the High Court was told today.
Former second minister of finance Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah, who is the prosecution’s 56th witness, testified that he met with Najib and sought the latter’s permission to bring a delegation comprised of the Finance Ministry, Bank Negara Malaysia and the Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP) to clarify the matter with the Swiss authorities.
“I was informed there were invested funds of SRC International that was kept in a bank in Switzerland where the total amount was more than RM3billion that was frozen by the Swiss government for money laundering related offences.
“I then met with Najib and asked for permission to lead a delegation from the Finance Ministry, Bank Negara and Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP) to present documents as evidence that the money was a loan from KWAP (to SRC International) and should not have been frozen for money laundering.
“However, the prime minister did not agree with my actions,” he said, reading from his witness statement.
Elaborating while under examination by deputy public prosecutor Muhammad Izzat Fauzan, Husni said he believed the Swiss authorities had made a mistake and had, therefore, made the proposal.
Izzat: What happened after that?
Husni: After Najib disagreed then nothing happened lah.
Izzat: Did he say why he didn’t agree?
Husni: He just didn’t agree.
Izzat: Can you recognise him?
Husni: Ha, the one at the back, always smiling (Husni gestures to Najib in court).
SRC previously obtained two loans totalling RM4 billion from KWAP in 2011 and 2012 – the first RM2 billion when it was a 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) subsidiary while the second RM2 billion was after the company’s ownership was transferred to the Finance Ministry’s Minister of Finance Incorporated (MoF Inc).
Ahmad Husni said he was initially informed by officers from the Finance Ministry over the frozen funds in Switzerland.
“We wanted to bring the money back. At that time the Swiss authorities may have not known the money was from KWAP,” he said.
When asked whether Najib provided any reasons for his disapproval, Ahmad Husni said he was not given one.
“Datuk Seri Najib did not agree…did not allow, so then we did not go.
“He (Najib) just didn’t agree,” Ahmad Husni added.
SRC board chairman and the 39th prosecution witness Tan Sri Ismee Ismail previously confirmed to court that loans from KWAP to SRC were deposited at Swiss-bank BSI (renamed EFG International) headquartered in Lugano, Switzerland.
Ahmad Husni said he was informed by officers from MoF Inc that excluding the RM3 billion kept in Switzerland, the remainder of KWAP’s loan was used for natural resources investments in Jawa, Indonesia and Mongolia.
In his testimony, Husni had also likened himself to an “office boy” claiming that he was left out of decisions with regard to SRC and that Najib’s government was “autocratic” when it came to the topic.
After Izzat concluded his examination and gave the floor to the defence team, lead defence lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah called Husni’s testimony “dramatic” and requested to continue with the cross-examination on a later date.
“I have to seek instruction from my client because the testimony is very much like the testimony of an angry man against my client.
“I want to know in what way he was told not to be involved but yet he was involved. He is saying to the extent that he had no choice like he had a gun to his head.
“We are not asking much, we are asking for one full day to take instructions,” he said, adding that the defence was “taken by surprise”.
High Court Judge Nazlan Mohd Ghazali agreed to grant an adjournment for Shafee to consult Najib.
The trial was supposed to continue at 2.30pm tomorrow but due to Shafee’s request, it will only resume on Thursday.
Husni was appointed as finance minister II in 2009 but resigned in June 2016.
Najib had sought to transfer Husni to another ministry in a cabinet reshuffle, prompting Husni to decline reappointment into the cabinet.