Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 14

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Key revelations include SRC projects looking good on paper only, and RM4 billion loan the largest witness has seen KWAP giving.

Chronology of Events:

10am: Najib and his lead defence attorney Muhammad Shafee Abdullah have yet to arrive, as they are attending a separate court matter before the Court of Appeal at the Palace of Justice at Putrajaya at 9am this morning. This trial is due to resume at 10am but is likely to start later.

10.26am: Harvinderjit Singh is seen entering court with other members of the defence team.

The lawyer is conferring with fellow defence lawyers as members of the prosecution also begin filling in the front seats to await the resumption of proceedings.

10.30am: Najib arrives in court. He is in a khaki suit with a black and white tie.

Afif Abd Halim/TMI

10.50am: Shafee enters the courtroom and takes a seat at the front to await the beginning of proceedings in the trial.

Afif Abd Halim/TMI

10.58am: Najib enters the dock as Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali comes into the courtroom to begin the hearing.

10.59am: Affin Bank branch manager at The Curve, Petaling Jaya, Norhayati Mohd Yunus takes the stand.

Azneal Ishak/Malaysiakini

The cross-examination by defence counsel Farhan Read, however, only lasts for about a minute, with Norhayati confirming her witness statement was based on available bank documents.

11.03am: The 29th witness, former Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) officer Amirul Imran Ahmat, is then called back to the stand.

Azneal Ishak/Malaysiakini

He helped prepare the RM4 billion loan to SRC.

11.09am: He is asked to identify Najib and former KWAP chief. He is also shown two pictures and asked to identify 1MDB chief Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, which he did correctly.

It is understood that Nik Faisal has not been successfully located by the authorities so far.

11.11am: Harvinderjit begins his cross-examination. He apologises to judge Nazlan for his absence yesterday.

Harvinderjit asks Amirul how many times he met with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to record his statements.

He says he was questioned countless times. He recalls the first MACC meeting to give a statement in 2015

11.13am: Amirul says he had dictated his statement and the MACC typed it out. An MACC officer named Rosli recorded the statement.

Harvinderjit: When they dictated, were questions asked or you just spoke?

Amirul: Questions were asked.

Amirul says he also met many MACC officers apart from Rosli.

11.15am: Amirul points out the MACC officers present today.

11.22am: Harvinderjit asks Amirul if he is familiar with the provisions of the Retirement Fund Act.

Harvinderjit: You know that the decision on whether KWAP invests in any particular project rests under the panel?

Amirul: There is a provision that it is within the powers of the panel.

11.28am: Amirul says when a loan is approved, it is subject to the KWAP Act.

He agrees that loans can differ. He agrees that the investment panel is not bound by the investment. He agrees that the panel can choose to approve an investment in any manner it feels.

11.32am: Harvinderjit goes through a letter that SRC sent to Najib and the Finance Ministry, seeking approval to get the loan.

Amirul says a copy of the letter was sent to him.

11.33am: In the letter, it states that KWAP chief Azian agrees with the suggestion to give the loan.

Harvinderjit: The letter would have reached the KWAP CEO, she would have then handed it over to prepare the investment panel paper.

Amirul: Yes.

Harvinderjit: The letter seeks funding for RM3.95 billion. The panel paper you prepared. It recommended a loan if RM1 billion. You were not instructed to prepare a paper for RM3.95 billion.

Amirul agrees that he was not instructed.

11.37am: Harvinderjit asks Amirul how he obtained information that SRC was a subsidiary of 1MDB.

Harvinderjit: Was it in the paper sent (to KWAP)?

Amirul: Yes.

11.42am: Amirul says they were only given a very general view of SRC investments.

He also says Nik Faisal, Terence Geh and Vincent Koh were present for a meeting with KWAP.

11.49am: Harvinderjit is going through emails and communications that Amirul and the top brass at 1MDB had via email with regard to the investment.

11.53am: 1MDB denied Amirul’s request for information on its projects as the prime minister and the chairman of the board have to agree with the request first.

Amirul says he did not escalate the issue with the KWAP chief but only told his superior and is not sure if his superior then escalated this with the CEO.

12pm: Amirul testifies that the KWAP investment panel would have rejected the proposed loan of RM3.95 billion to SRC, if it had a choice.

However, when pressed by Harvinderjit, he clarifies this is his personal opinion and that he cannot speak on behalf of the investment panel.

Harvinderjit: You know that the investment panel did not approve the paper straight away?

Amirul: They would have rejected it if they had a choice. It was deferred, not rejected (in the end).

Harvinderjit: You cannot speak on behalf of the investment panel.

Amirul: Yes.

Harvinderjit: All that you are saying is that they would have rejected it is your personal opinion on the matter.

Amirul: Yes.

12.10pm: A minor argument ensues between Harvinderjit and  Amirul over a proposal paper to approve an RM1 billion loan to SRC.

Amirul testifies that he had been instructed by the director of KWAP’s Fixed Income Department to prepare a proposal paper for KWAP to loan SRC RM1 billion, after the fund received the latter’s request for an RM3.95 billion loan.

Harvinderjit repeatedly puts to Amirul that the RM1 billion loan was a recommendation made by KWAP’s Fixed Income Department.

However, Amirul denies the lawyer’s claim, saying the paper was only prepared for KWAP’s investment panel to “deliberate and consider”.

He tells the court that if the paper were indeed a recommendation, it would have included relevant wording to that effect.

Harvinderjit: But it says for recommendation.

Amirul: That’s just a standard header.

When Harvinderjit tries to press him again, Amirul interjects, telling Harvinderjit to allow him to respond.

“No, you asked me a question, let me answer,” says Amirul.

The lawyer, however, does not back down and instead rephrases his claim by asking whether the RM1 billion loan was a recommendation made by KWAP’s Fixed Income Department, to which Amirul replies, “No”.

12.18pm: Harvinderjit clarifies that Amirul’s proposal was only for RM1 billion, the investment panel was told that they had proposed a lower amount of financing.

Harvinderjit asks if he’s still sticking that the RM1 billion was still not his recommendation. Amirul said yes.

He adds that he did not present his investment paper to the panel as this was done by his superior.

They are now going through the minutes of the investment panel meeting.

12.20pm: Being the author of the investment paper, Amirul signed off on it for the investment panel to deliberate.

Harvinderjit pushes him again on whether the RM1 billion was his recommendation. Amirul answers quite sarcastically “Do you want a yes or no answer or what?”

Amirul tells the court that the fund was not rushed into approving SRC International’s application for an RM3.95 billion loan.

During cross-examination, the witness explains that he had prepared a paper for KWAP’s investment panel in July 2011 regarding SRC’s loan.

Harvinderjit: If there had been a rush to approve the loan, they could have approved it straightaway, but they did not.

Amirul: Yes.

Harvinderjit: After deferring (on the loan application), then they decided (to approve the loan later)?

Amirul: Yes.

Yesterday, when examined by the prosecution, Amirul had testified that he was under pressure and felt rushed when dealing with the SRC International loan application.

1pm: The court takes a half-hour break.

1.48pm: Court resumes with Amirul in the stand.

1.50pm: Harvinderjit goes through the letter of offer for the loan with Amirul, who says the KWAP loans are all shariah-compliant.

1.52pm: Harvinderjit says the loan repayment period was 10 years and asks if it is still in existence.

Amirul says he doesn’t know about it.

2.22pm: Harvinderjit asks Amirul about the identity and function of Zahid, whose name constantly cropped up in correspondence between SRC and KWAP.

Harvinderjit: You have met Zahid Taib?

Amirul: Yes.

Harvinderjit: Who is he?

Amirul: A multipurpose guy for (former SRC director) Nik Faisal (Ariff Kamil).

Harvinderjit: No name card was given to you (by Zahid)?

Amirul: No.

In his written witness statement, Amirul says that among the correspondence he had with Zahid was on March 6, 2012, when he sent an email to Zahid, Nik Faisal, and 1MDB executive director of finance Terrence Geh to inform SRC that KWAP has yet to receive SRC’s first quarter report ending Nov 29, 2011.

2.26pm: Harvinderjit goes through SRC’s quarterly report with Amirul.

2.45pm: Harvinderjit asks Amirul whether he saw Najib sign the letter approving the loans. Amirul says no.

2.52pm: Amirul testifies that no other SRC directors were ever present in meetings with KWAP to discuss the company’s loan application in 2011.

He says he had only met Nik Faisal, Terrence Geh and general counsel Jasmine Loo at the meetings.

Amirul testifies that his dealings with SRC’s Nik Faisal and Geh did not give a good impression about the claimed investment in the pipeline by SRC.

During cross-examination by Harvinderjit, Amirul says that the men seemed to rely too much on documentation to project a positive outlook on the purported projects of SRC.

Harvinderjit: In regards to Geh and Nik Faisal, was there an air of confidence that their (SRC) investment would work out?

Amirul: No.

Harvinderjit: On paper, it looks good?

Amirul: Actually, referring back to my previous testimony, they (Geh and Nik Faisal) gave documents but those are only representations and not of (actual) merit.

Harvinderjit: So, superficially, these documents look impressive?

Amirul: Yes.

Harvinderjit: They seemed to rely on what is on paper and hope that is the end-all and be-all for you?

Amirul: Yes.

The witness is answering Harvinderjit’s question on the former’s meetings with Geh and Nik Faisal in regards to the discussion on the RM2 billion loan by KWAP to SRC in early 2012.

2.57pm: Harvinderjit asks whether the interest payment is below market value for government-guaranteed loans. Amirul says it is above market value.

3.10pm: Ahmat remains adamant about his testimony yesterday that he had not seen a bigger loan than the RM4 billion given to SRC International.

Amirul says this during cross-examination by Harvinderjit, who had asked whether the witness’ previous testimony was based on the three years and four months he had spent working with KWAP.

Harvinderjit: You were speaking from your time of three years and four months (with KWAP)?

Amirul: Yes.

Harvinderjit: There were bigger (loans given out by KWAP)?

Amirul: Loans, no.

Harvinderjit: If there were bigger loans, it would be discussed by (KWAP) investment panel?

Amirul: Yes.

Harvinderjit: You might not have been aware (of larger loans) as you do not deal with the facility?

Amirul: I am quite sure, no.

The defence counsel then suggests that only someone from the investment panel could provide a conclusive answer to the question, to which Amirul disagrees.

Harvinderjit: I am suggesting that (the claim that there is no bigger loan) is not true. You are unsure. Do you agree?

Amirul: Single loan for RM4 billion, no.

However, Amirul acknowledges that while he is certain there is no larger loan than RM4 billion, there could be a loan bigger than the individual RM2 billion tranches transferred from KWAP to SRC.

Harvinderjit: There is a distinction here of cumulative loan (of RM4 billion KWAP loan to SRC split into two tranches of RM2 billion each).

There might have been a single loan bigger than RM2 billion? There might have been others (Amirul may have not been aware of)?

Amirul: Okay.

Harvinderjit: Good.

On April 30, an AmBank employee had testified that the first tranche of RM2 billion was transferred from KWAP to SRC on Aug 29, 2011. The second tranche was transferred on March 28, 2012.

3.26pm: Najib is seen nodding off.

Azneal Ishak/Malaysiakini

3.34pm: Harvinderjit goes through Amirul’s testimony with him. Judge Nazlan asks to continue for another 10 minutes before the court stands down for the day.

Shafwan Zaidon

3.45pm: The court stands down for the day as Harvinderjit tells Nazlan that he needs one more hour with the witness. The judge says the cross-examination will continue at 9am tomorrow.

Earlier reports:

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