Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 16

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Testimony reiterating that the RM4 billion loan was the biggest by KWAP and the loan process was hastened.

Chronology of Events:

8.55am: Wearing a dark grey suit, Najib enters the courtroom and takes a seat at the front row of the public gallery. He confers with his aide.

Hari Anggara

9.02am: Najib is seen shaking hands with former treasury secretary-general Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah, who is also awaiting the beginning of mention for six counts of criminal breach of trust involving RM6.6 billion before judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali. Irwan takes a seat next to Najib.

Seth Akmal/TMI

The SRC International trial will begin after this mention.

Attorney-General Tommy Thomas and other members of the prosecution team are present.

Najib and Irwan are seen smiling as they chat with each other, as Najib’s lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah is seen with other members of the defence.

Lawyer K Kumaraendran is representing Irwan for the case mention.

9.13am: The court is in session, with Irwan and Najib in the dock.

The prosecution is seeking to vacate the July 8 date of the Najib-Irwan trial to accommodate the SRC International trial, saying “it would not promote judicial efficiency to start the IPIC case when (the) SRC International (case) is ongoing”, referring to Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC).

9.14am:  Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd says he wants to fix dates for the IPIC case. Shafee asks him not to fix dates until at least September, as the 1MDB and SRC trials will not wrap up till August. The lawyer proposes a postponement of dates to hear the IPIC case.

The parties will return on Monday to decide on the matter. The prosecution and defence need to confer with judge Colin Sequerah and others before they can finalise the dates before judge Nazlan.

Nazlan says the IPIC trial will most probably start this December or in January next year.

9.30am: Irwan steps out of the dock as Najib remains inside for the SRC trial.

9.32am: The SRC trial resumes. Maybank assistant branch manager Halijah Abdul Wahab takes the stand.

Seth Akmal/TMI

Shafee asks whether she brought the documents requested. She says “yes”.

9.38am: Shafee goes through the account-opening form of Permai Binaraya. Halijah confirms that the bank received a letter on July 1, 2014, from Permai Binaraya, and the account was opened on July 2, 2014. There were two signatories – Rosman Abdullah and Jerome Lee Tak Loong.

9.45am: As Shafee cross-examines Halijah, Najib plays with his mobile phone in the dock.

Najib appears to have turned on the selfie camera on his phone, before switching it back around.

He then lowers the phone to continue looking at the screen as proceedings continue.

9.51am: Shafee goes through Putra Perdana Construction’s form. Halijah confirms that Putra Perdana Construction was formerly known as Kamunting Construction Sdn Bhd. The name was changed on September 17, 1998.

Putra Perdana Construction has had several changes of account signatories since it opened its account in 1991.

9.52am: Halijah says she is not sure of the company’s signatories in 1998. She says there were six signatories for Kamunting Construction.

9.57am: Halijah says Rosman became a signatory for Putra Perdana Construction on May 2, 2012, and Lee on May 28, 2014.

9.58am: Shafee tells the witness that he wants to focus on these two names.

10.08am: Halijah confirms to Shafee that the mentioned duo were signatories for both Permai Binaraya and Putra Perdana Construction.

10.11am: Shafee asks Halijah if she can confirm whether instruction letters or any form of documents were signed by Rosman and Lee.

She says “yes” for Permai Binaraya and “I think, also” for Putra Perdana Construction.

Shafee: As far as you could recall, since they became the (companies’) signatories, they were the ones who signed all the instructions?

Halijah: Yes.

Shafee: Do you agree that in both companies, they have a common director, which is Rosman?

Halijah: Yes.

Shafee: And Lee was also a director in Permai Binaraya?

Halijah: I am not sure about being a director, but that a signatory, I can confirm.

Shafee then refers the witness to several documents tendered as evidence, before Halijah confirms that Lee and Rosman were both directors in Permai Binaraya, and that the former was not listed as a director for Putra Perdana Construction.

10.16am: Halijah confirms that Rosman and Lee were the signatories for an instruction letter to transfer funds from Acc No. 514012042754 to AmBank.

10.19am: There is another instruction letter signed by the two, to transfer RM5 million from Acc No. 514012042754, belonging to Permai Binaraya, to Putra Perdana Development. The witness confirms this, and says the signatories “changed position”.

10.22am: The court hears about an instruction letter, dated January 7, 2015, to transfer RM3 million from Putra Perdana Construction (Acc No. 014011327183) to Permai Binaraya (Acc No. 514012042754). The letter was received via fax. It was signed by Lee and Rosman.

10.24am: Shafee questions Halijah on another instruction letter received by fax, to debit RM30 million from Permai Binaraya (Acc No. 514012042754) and credit the amount to SRC (Acc No. 2112022010650).

Halijah confirms the letter, saying it was also signed by Lee and Rosman.

Shafee asks her if the format of the instruction letters was the same for Permai Binaraya and Putra Perdana Construction.

She confirms this.

Pasir Salak MP Tajuddin Abdul Rahman enters the courtroom and shakes hands with Najib.

Azneal Ishak/Malysiakini

Wearing a cream shirt and black songkok, Tajuddin takes a seat in the front row of the public gallery, right behind the dock.

He listens intently to Shafee questioning Halijah on the authorised signatories of Putra Perdana Construction and Permai Binaraya.

10.30am: Shafee questions why a cheque was issued for the RM30 million transaction. Halijah says clients can choose between direct debit and cheque issuance.

The lawyer says the cheque issuance was “unnecessary”.

10.37am: Shafee says although the bank followed the instruction on the fund transfer, it was unnecessary to issue a cheque.

The process is called “layering”, the court hears. It means that instead of debiting funds directly from an account, the bank decided to issue a cheque.

‘Layering’ commonly refers to a process of laundering money, whereby the origin of funds is concealed through a series of transactions or bookkeeping tricks.

Under cross-examination by Shafee, Halijah testifies that the transactions involved an instruction letter and an in-house cheque.

Shafee: Is this an instruction letter from Permai Binaraya on Jan 7, 2015, in favour of SRC?

Halijah: Correct.

Shafee: This transaction was done based on the instruction?

Halijah: Correct.

Shafee: Now look at P444, there is a cheque. Now this cheque, can you confirm this was issued by Permai Binaraya in favour of Maybank for the same amount of RM15 million?

Halijah: Yes. On Jan 7, 2015.

Shafee: Same date as the instruction letter?

Halijah: Yes.

Shafee then asks Halijah why a cheque was necessary when Permai Binaraya had already issued the instruction letter for the same amount and to the same payee.

She says that she is not sure, but adds that the letter instructed Maybank to transfer the funds to AmBank, while the cheque was to have the amount debited from Permai Binaraya’s Maybank account and transferred to SRC.

Halijah adds that customers can choose either way to conduct their transactions.

Shafee: As far as the bank is concerned, which do you act on? You act on both (instruction letter and cheque) is it?

Halijah: Yes.

Shafee: If I were to suggest you that whoever issued this cheque and instruction is actually layering this cheque and instruction so the original payee is not easily identified, as it comes from a payment from Maybank, is that one possibility?

That from the person who issues the instruction and cheque there is a process of layering? As the money was not transferred directly, but it goes to the bank and is then transferred (to the recipient)?

Halijah: There is a possibility.

Shafee: As far as you are concerned, this did not alert anyone (at Maybank) of anything suspicious?

Halijah: As a banker, they should have advised a direct debit from the account.

Shafee: As done previously?

Halijah: Yes.

Shafee: Although you were not the officer in charge, unfortunately, you are here. So, there was no need to issue the cheque?

Halijah: By right.

There are no further questions from Shafee. The witness is released.

10.38am: The next witness to take the stand is Noor Lina Mahmud, section leader of Maybank’s treasury settlement. Her duty is to ensure Rentas, or Real-Time Electronic Transfer of Funds and Securities System, transactions are successful.

10.51am: Noor Lina is questioned by DPP Sulaiman Kho.

10.56am: Noor Lina is verifying the “single credit completion advice” from Putra Perdana Construction to SRC’s account.

11.02am: Noor Lina is confirming transactions based on single credit confirmation advice. The transactions confirmed so far:

– RM35 million from SRC International to Putra Perdana Construction on July 8, 2014,

– RM105 million from SRC International to Putra Perdana Construction on July 14, 2014,

– RM30 million from SRC International to Putra Perdana Construction on August 8, 2014,

– RM140 million from Putra Perdana Construction to SRC International on December 12, 2014,

– RM5 million from an AmPrivate account to Putra Perdana Construction on December 29, 2014,

– RM27 million from Permai Binaraya to an AmPrivate account on July 8, 2014,

– RM27 million from an AmPrivate account to Permai Binaraya on December 29, 2014; and,

– RM30 million from Permai Binaraya to SRC International on January 7, 2015.

In response to questions from Sulaiman, she confirms the single credit confirmation advice of the transaction on the orders of Permai Binaraya.

11.11am: The DPP has no further questions. Cross-examination of the witness begins by Rahmat Hazlan for the defence.

11.15am: In the cross-examination, the witness confirms that on July 8, 2014 RM27 million from Permai Binaraya was transferred to AmPrivate account number ending with ‘880’ that belongs to Najib.

Tajuddin, who was following the trial earlier, is no longer seen in court.

11.20am: Noor Lina says she didn’t get a copy of instruction letter as the letter is sent to the headquarters in KL. She confirms that the Rentas department will only receive “interface instructions” from the branch.

No further questions from Rahmat. Witness is released.

11.45am: The court is back in session after a short break.

The 33rd witness, M Ambalagam, is called to the stand. He works in the contributions department in KWAP.

Seth Akmal/TMI

He has been with KWAP since 2004. He was the director in the accounts and management services department in KWAP in 2011, with the authority to approve payment vouchers for KWAP.

11.50am: He says he approved the RM2 billion payment voucher for SRC’s loan from KWAP on August 29, 2011.

11.53am: He says after the payment was approved, it was brought to the Rentas system for approval before the money was released to the recipient.

11.58am: Harvinderjit begins cross-examination. Ambalagam is being asked when he was first questioned by MACC.

He says he was questioned a year or two ago. He says he had given statements about two or three times. He also names MACC officer Rosli.

“The officers usually asked me what happened. I gave my views. They typed it down and gave it back to me. I verified them and signed it,” says Ambalagam.

12pm: Harvinderjit asks Ambalagam if his testimony is in his exact words. He says yes. Ambalagam also said he does not have the power to approve the loans.

12.05pm: Ambalagam says he is in charge of utilisation of loans. Harvinderjit asks him about a peculiarity of two documents known as a utilisation notice, the document needed to procure the RM2 billion loan. Harvinderjit notes that one document is dated and one is not.

Ambalagam says a payment instruction notice of the loan will be taken to an assistant vice-president for approval. He says on average, government allocation for KWAP is RM500 million.

12.10pm: Harvinderjit asks if the government would allocate RM1.5 billion to KWAP. Ambalagam says the amount may vary.

Witness is allowed to leave the stand.

12.15pm: The 34th witness Amirah Mohd Noor takes the stand. She holds a PhD from University Teknologi Mara.

Seth Akmal/TMI

She was also the vice-president of KWAP investment support and services department but had retired in 2018. She says her statement was recorded by MACC.

12.20pm: For the first loan of RM2 billion, she says she was on leave and did not sign the payment vouchers. She adds that Ambalagam had signed it as he had the power to do so.

For the second RM2 billion loan to SRC International in 2012, she says she had signed off on two payment vouchers of RM1 billion each.

12.22pm: She confirms that the money had gone from KWAP coffers to SRC.

12.25pm: She says her role was not to question payments or loans made out by KWAP. She adds that these two loans given out to SRC were the biggest ones approved in KWAP history.

12.28pm: Amirah is being cross-examined by Harvinderjit.

12.30pm: Harvinderjit asks how can she remember these transactions since she has retired.

She says when taking her statement, the MACC had shown her documents of the payment voucher approvals that she had signed.

Harvinderjit: Is this based on your memory?

Amirah: Yes

12.43pm: Shafee and Najib doze off in court during Harvinderjit’s cross-examination.

12.45pm: Harvinderjit notes discrepancies between her written statement and Ambalagam’s statement that were recorded by MACC.

Harvinderjit says the information in the statement is from her, but the wording is not. She reluctantly agrees.

12.48pm: Amirah says the statements are the same. Harvinderjit asks how many times she and Ambalagam met with the MACC officers and if she saw Ambalagam’s statement before giving hers to MACC.

12.53pm: Harvinderjit: Can you remember the first time you were called to MACC?

Amirah: Not sure if it was 2015 or 2016.

Harvinderjit questions Amirah over alleged similarities in her witness statement to that of Ambalagam.

Harvinderjit: Are these your words or it was a draft document?

Amirah: In my own words.

Harvinderjit: When the statement was being prepared, you dictated, they typed?

Amirah: Yes.

Harvinderjit: Was Ambalagam sitting beside you at the time?

Amirah: No.

Harvinderjit ends his cross-examination.

12.55pm: Court takes a 30-minute break.

1.55pm: Court resumes with DPP Sithambaram saying WhatsApp messages have been going viral that Najib has been taking selfies in court.

Shafee points out a reporter from The Edge in court and says that he must have super powers to see that Najib is taking selfies in court, adding that these reports are not newsworthy.

Najib denied taking selfies and said he used the camera as a mirror, as he felt there was something sharp near his eye, says Shafie.

Sithambaram asks what the issue is if any photo was taken. Shafee says no picture was taken.

Judge Nazlan asks Najib directly whether he took a photo.

Najib answers that he used the camera for his personal appearance.

Nazlan says he accepts the explanation but emphasises that all forms of recording and photos are forbidden in court. He adds that if these pictures were taken, it would be bordering on contempt.

Shafee says that any report should be to assist in the court proceedings and urges the judge to warn reporters not to write these stories.

Nazlan says that journalists didn’t write the story with malice, as they may have thought that selfie was taken. He adds that the last thing he wants is for these issues to take away from the case at hand.

The judge orders the matter shut and calls for the next witness.

2.05pm: The 35th witness takes the stand. Azlida Mazni Arshad is the vice-president of KWAP’s legal and secretarial department.

Hari Anggara

Azlida reads the statement she prepared with the MACC. She reads about how KWAP makes its investments.

2.25pm: She says there are two ways that the KWAP investment panel makes a decision on loans. One way is by a meeting which is attended by all panel members. The second way is to send out a circular paper. If it’s by a meeting, they take a consensus, whereas if it’s by circular paper, the panel goes by majority vote.

She says the circular paper method was frequently used to approve loans from 2011 to 2013.

As for the RM4 billion loan to SRC, she says the investment company had sent a letter which was received by KWAP on June 3, 2011, addressed to Najib. The letter was seeking RM3.95 billion for SRC to carry out general investments.

2.35pm: Azlida says that on July 5, an investment paper of RM1 billion was tabled before the investment panel.

She confirms that the panel had not approved the loan during that meeting on July 5 to obtain more specific information about SRC and its functions.

She says the decision to do so was recorded in the meeting minutes and the meeting was chaired by Wan Abdul Aziz Wan Abdullah who was KWAP chairman at that time.

2.40pm: Azlida says that on July 19, an investment paper, this time for RM2 billion, was brought for the panel’s consideration. SRC International requested the money for working capital and general investments, she says.

She says she was present at the meeting as the recording secretary and confirms that Najib had urged Wan Abdul Aziz to hasten the loan process.

2.45pm: According to Azlida Mazni, the panel agreed that RM2 billion was too big an amount to give a company which had only had RM2 capital.

“The special panel was of the view that RM2 billion was too big for a company with paid-up capital of RM2, and thus they agreed to approve a loan of RM1 billion as per the July 5, 2011 meeting,” she says.

The panel also decided to consider the loan if it were made directly to 1MDB instead of SRC because 1MDB had been wholly owned by MoF Inc as it had proper money management, discipline and was under the purview of MoF Inc.

She says the panel was wary of the risks of giving the loan to SRC. The panel also questioned the ability and qualifications of SRC’s management in making investments.

The panel also noted that there was no urgency to give the money out in a lump sum. They proposed to give the money in stages.

She also reveals that all six-panel members then voted in agreement to give the RM2 billion to SRC.

3pm: The witness is detailing the loan process which KWAP followed in giving SRC the loan.

3.15pm: Azlida is also going through the panel’s process of approving the second RM2 billion loan which had the same loan terms as the first.

3.35pm: The witness says the RM4 billion paid out by KWAP was the biggest loan it had ever approved in the time she worked there.

She says that four investment panel papers and a special investment panel paper are lost and she only has copies of them.

She says she had looked for those documents but could not find them. When asked by the DPP if she could find them if given time, she says she would not be able to find them.

She confirms that the originals were lost.

When asked as to why the investment process was hastened, she says there was instruction given to hasten the loan process, but doesn’t say by who.

3.40pm: Judge Nazlan allows the witness to leave the stand but to continue her cross-examination when the trial resumes next week.

Court adjourns for the day.

Earlier reports:

May 8, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 15

May 7, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 14

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