Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day Two

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From TIA to 1MDB, how Najib took control of state firm.

9.30am: Najib Abdul Razak enters the court and takes a seat at the front row of the public gallery.

Najjua Zulkefli/TMI

Also seen in court are lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah and lead prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram.

Najib and his defence lawyers attended another matter before High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan earlier this morning.

9.56am: Defence and prosecution lawyers together with Najib are all seated in the chambers awaiting judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah to start Day 2 of the 1MDB-Tanore trial.

10.05am: Court is in session.

The proceedings begin with the prosecution calling its fifth witness, former Kota Melaka MP Wong Nai Chee, who was Najib’s adviser in Chinese affairs.

10.07am: Wong was Najib’s political secretary in 2011.

Sri Ram asks him if he’s heard of Lim Soon Peng, to which he says “yes”.

Lim was in charge of mobilising grassroots crowds for Najib, Wong says.

Lim was the brains behind the ‘Ah Jib Gor’ Facebook page.

10.11am: Sri Ram shows Wong a cheque, which he says Najib gave him and later handed over to Lim.

10.15am: Wong testifies that Najib did not issue cheques to two entities directly to prevent them from being circulated on Facebook.

During examination-in-chief, he tells Sri Ram that the cheques were issued to Lim Soon Peng instead.

Lim then relayed the cheques to Akademi Kewartawanan & Informasi Taima and AD Network.

The first recipient is involved in the publication of a Chinese weekly, while AD Network is the administrator of the Ah Jib Gor Facebook page.

“If a personal cheque issued by the PM (Najib), we do not want it to circulate on Facebook.

Lim Huey Teng/Malaysiakini

“We would rather pay someone whom we trust, so he (Lim) can pay (to the two entities),” Wong says.

Among the cheques issued was a payment for RM246,000 by Najib on Aug 7, 2013.

10.19am: The two companies distributed articles on government policies and the economy titled towards the Chinese community.

Wong says the government had done a lot of good that wasn’t getting highlighted.

10.20am: There was a negative perception against the government among the Chinese and they needed to change it.

Wong says Najib also made out another cheque dated January 31, 2012, to pay a political analyst.

He banked in the cheque and made the payment out to the analyst.

10.24am: Sri Ram ends his examination.

10.25am: Shafee starts his cross-examination.

10.26am: Wong tells Shafee that Najib had three political secretaries, including himself.

For activities involving the grassroots, Lim was the contact person as he could mobilise the grassroots, Wong tells Shafee.

Lim had contact with Chinese civil society groups and could pass pro-BN messages to the grassroots.

10.43am: Wong says Najib was a tolerant man.

The ‘Ah Jib Gor’ Facebook page refers to ‘Brother Najib’. Wong says it was formed to communicate with the people.

10.47am: Shafee suggests that the term was a way to make Najib relatable. He says (Najib’s predecessor Abdullah Ahmad) Badawi’s nickname was ‘Pak Lah’ and Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is known as ‘Che Det’.

10.59am: The witness is released from the stand.

Sixth witness Batu Kawan Umno division chief Mohd Noor Ahmad takes the stand.

11.07am: Noor says he told Najib that Batu Kawan Umno was low in funds in 2013, after which the former party president issued a cheque of RM100,000.

11.05am: “It was on Aug 6, 2013,” Noor says in relation to a cheque made out by Najib at the Prime Minister’s office to the division as a contribution.

The cheque, dated Aug 7, 2013, is a subject matter of one of the 21 charges of money laundering against Najib in the RM2.28 billion 1MDB trial.

11.10am: The money was used for charitable works in Batu Kawan, Noor says.

The division never returned the money to Najib. Noor is still serving as chief.

11.12am: Shafee begins his cross-examination.

11.20am: Noor agrees to Shafee’s suggestion that the Malays in Penang were among the less fortunate in the country compared to other states.

He also agrees that the Malays in the northern state were in need of such assistance for their livelihood.

Shafee: One more question. Although I myself am also from Penang…would you agree that the economical state of the Malays in Penang is not very good?

Mohd Noor: Yes, I agree.

Shafee: In Malaysia, one of the states where (the Malays) are still being left behind (economically) is Penang?

Mohd Noor: Agree.

Shafee: And they need assistance to uplift their livelihood?

Mohd Noor: True.

Shafee: And during that time when you received the funds from Najib, the Penang state government was not under Barisan Nasional?

Mohd Noor: Yes.

Shafee: And you received this donation to help the people in Batu Kawan?

Mohd Noor: True.

The witness also testifies that the Umno division’s bank account had been frozen by the authorities for about a year over the case.

11.25am: The witness is released from the stand.

11.30am: Sri Ram requests for today’s proceedings to be adjourned.

He informs the court that the prosecution is expecting a lengthy session with the seventh witness, as there are 177 documents to be tendered.

“If it is convenient to My Lordship, we would like to take it to Tuesday morning,” says Sri Ram.

Sequerah, however, is not keen on adjourning the trial.

He says they have already lost “several days,” referring to the trial being postponed in the last few weeks.

“We will start today. We already lost several days. I’m sure it will spill to Tuesday,” says the judge.

Sequerah then allows for a short break for the prosecution to prepare for the next witness.

12.05pm: The prosecution calls its seventh witness, Rafidah Yahaya. She is the assistant registrar of companies in the Companies Commission Malaysia (SSM).

Hariz Mohd/Malaysiakini

Rafidah starts her testimony by identifying documents that she had surrendered to MACC on May 28, 2018, including the business registration certificate for Terengganu Investment Authority Bhd, which later came to be known as 1MDB.

She says on May 28, 2018, an MACC officer named Farid Ismail came to SSM to request documents on 1MDB.

12.16pm: Rafidah says she handed over the documents to Farid on the same day.

They’re going through each document to submit them as evidence. There are more than 170 documents.

12.58pm: Court breaks for lunch.

2.43pm: Trial resumes with Rafidah continuing to verify documents of 1MDB and its subsidiaries.

2.45pm: The court hears from Rafidah that the MACC requested information on four companies last year to facilitate their investigation into the 1MDB scandal.

Rafidah says that the request was made by MACC officer Shahrul Nizam Abdul Aziz on April 22, 2019.

The companies include Powertek Investment Holding Sdn Bhd, Merpati Energy (Langat) Sdn Bhd, and Mastika Lagenda Sdn Bhd.

Rafidah tells the court that she then processed the request and printed out documents needed by the MACC and handed them to the officer.

Under examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor Mohamad Mustaffa P Kunyalam, Rafidah then proceeds to identify these documents in court to be tendered as evidence.

3.38pm: The Kuala Lumpur High Court hears today that Najib’s special officer Wan Ahmad Shihab Ismail Wan Ismail was made a director in energy producer Tanjong Energy Holdings Sdn Bhd.

1MDB purchased Tanjong Energy Holdings from tycoon Ananda Krishnan in early March 2012.

The court also hears that two personalities linked to 1MDB, Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi and Terence Geh, were also appointed as managing director and CEO (Shahrol), and deputy chief financial officer (Geh).

Rafidah confirms this during examination-in-chief by Mustaffa in regard to the company’s Form 49, which has details of its directorship.

Mustaffa: In Tanjong Energy Holdings, Ahmad Ismail Wan Ismail, the special officer to prime minister (Najib) was made director on May 22, 2012, as well as Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi being made managing director and CEO, and the appointment of (Terence) Geh Choh Heng as director (on May 22, 2012).

Rafidah: Correct.

4.05pm: As the court returns from a short break, the defence makes a request to shorten daily hearings, as Najib is finding it difficult to sit on the wooden bench for long periods.

The request comes after the judge declines DPP Mustaffa’s request to cut short today’s session at 4.30pm.

Shafee first cites documentation issues in making the request, before touching on his client’s health.

“But more critical is that my client (had been) sitting on a pure plank…almost every day.

Azneal Ishak

“As soon as Yang Arif allowed for adjournment (just now), he had to do some stretching, if not it’s going to get worse,” he tells the judge.

Shafee adds that he had raised the same issue in Najib’s SRC International trial.

Sequerah says he can only allow court to be adjourned at 4.45pm today.

Shafee then asks the judge to consider cutting short all future hearings to 4.30pm.

Sequerah denies the request, but tells the lawyer that he can consider allowing periodical breaks if required.

4.47pm: Sequerah allows proceedings to adjourn to Tuesday at 9.30am.

Earlier reports:

Aug 28, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day One

Aug 28, Shafee: Prove Najib Knew Arab Donation Letter Faked, Jho Low Is Najib’s Alter Ego

Aug 28, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Shafee Again Questions Sri Ram’s Appointment

Aug 28, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Gopal Sri Ram’s Full Opening Statement

Aug 28, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Prosecution to Show Saudi Donations a Sham

Aug 28, Najib’s 1 MDB Trial: Prosecution to Prove Jho Low Was Najib’s Alter Ego

Aug 28, Najib’s 1MDB Trial Begins