Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 24

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The trial came to a halt early for the defence to check for alleged contradictions in a witness’ testimony.

8.57am: Clad in a navy blue suit and clutching a copy of the book ‘The Laws of Human Nature’ by Robert Greene, former prime minister Najib Razak enters the courtroom.

He is seen conferring with his defence counsel Yusof Zainal Abiden while waiting for proceedings to begin.

Seth Akmal/TMI

9.11am: Najib enters the dock as proceedings begin.

Defence counsel Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed informs Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Nazlan Mohd Ghazali that lead defence lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah is attending another case mention before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

Aizuddin then seeks a short stand-down until 9.45am until Shafee can come to the SRC proceedings.

Nazlan: The court was not told of this yesterday.

Aizuddin: We apologise as we missed the (mention before judge Collin today) in the diary.

The case before judge Collin this morning is the mention of Shafee’s money laundering involving RM9.5 million allegedly received from Najib. Harvinderjit Singh is Shafee’s counsel for the money laundering case.

Nazlan allows temporary adjournment of the trial until 9.45am.

9.38am: Shafee enters the courtroom.

Also seen in court is attorney-general Tommy Thomas and other members of the prosecution as well as defence.

9.39am: Najib makes his way back to the courtroom after a coffee break in the cafeteria.

9.45am: Former SRC International chairperson Ismee Ismail takes the stand.

9.58am: Harvinderjit asks if SRC must get approval from 1MDB for any decision it makes or it will be against Section 132 of the Companies Act.

Ismee says prosecution must understand from the whole picture of the birth of 1MDB.

“You have to regard how 1MDB was birthed (came into being).

“In our state of mind at the time, we have advisor emeritus who is also prime minister, and (in) 1MDB, (thus) technically he was my boss.

“Even though I was CEO of Tabung Haji, ultimately he (Najib) was my boss, that is implied,” Ismee tells Harvinderjit.

Seth Akmal/TMI

Harvinderjit: If your best interest is aligned to the best interest of the government. It was anchored on the fact that you will deal with matters that will extend to the Malaysian public, if the government was a shareholder that means the people of Malaysia are.

Ismee: Yes.

Harvinderjit: I’m not agreeing with this I’m just stating. Any directive from Najib came from Nik Faisal, you say he was your boss. You were influential at that time. Could you ask for a meeting with the prime minister?

Ismee: Correct.

10.04am: Ismee says he had no reason to doubt correspondences that Nik Faisal presented from Najib to the board.

Harvinderjit asks if Ismee could speak directly with the prime minister or MoF Inc if he found something amiss with Nik Faisal’s reporting. Ismee agreed.

10.07am: Harvinderjit asks why Ismee didn’t think it serious to report what had happened in SRC in terms of its audited accounts.

Ismee says that he did not meet Najib regarding the suspicion on the audit status of the company’s accounts as he needed to investigate the matter first.

“I needed to investigate the non-filing, I called the auditor Deloitte on why the delay, they said several audit confirmations have not been received from the (SRC) management.”

He says he assumed the responsibility to close the accounts.

“The reason Nik Faisal did not disclose, they said, was because busy with other matters,” Ismee says.

He tells the court that he asked the auditor repeatedly if they had anything to tell the board but the auditor didn’t say anything.

Ismee says he felt responsible to ensure the accounts were closed before he left, adding that the prime minister’s office was well aware of the reason he stepped down from SRC.

He also says he did not escalate the matter to Najib as the problem has been resolved.

10.16am: Harvinderjit asks if Ismee never thought the CEO lying to the board about the accounts being audited is serious enough to inform the shareholders.

Ismee: I can’t say. It’s too technical.

Harvinderjit: You had enough concern to go and look for the prime minister’s secretary to tell him about your resignation but you couldn’t escalate this issue? Would you agree?

Ismee: I can’t say I can agree or not.

Harvinderjit: In your mind the fact that the CEO lied to the board and indirectly lied to the shareholders, it was not a cause of concern for the board to escalate this to the shareholder?

Ismee: I think this is case by case.

Harvinderjit: Are you trying to tell this court that the board of SRC didn’t have to use their own decision-making powers as long as Nik Faisal told you what the shareholder wants?

Ismee: No.

Harvinderjit: Was the board of the impression that if Nik Faisal says he had a conversation with the prime minister then he is to be believed?

Ismee: We trust him.

Harvinderjit: Is that a yes?

Ismee: We trust him means we trust him-lah.

10.18am: Harvinderjit asks if the board was aware of how transactions took place in SRC. Ismee says not really.

10.29am: Harvinderjit says the board of SRC had fiduciary duty of all assets in the company and if Ismee still maintains it was good enough for the board to take instructions from a shareholder.

Ismee: I can’t answer that question with a yes or no answer.

Harvinderjit: If you don’t answer, then you’re running away from the question.

Ismee: I’m not running away. I’m here.

10.32am: Ismee says he wants to elaborate but Harvinderjit does not allow him to.

V Sithambaram interjects, saying the witness should be allowed to elaborate on his answer.

The judge allows Harvinderjit’s questioning to go on after he tells the court that if Ismee is allowed to elaborate on yes or no questions, the questioning will take the whole day.

10.35am: Harvinderjit says Ismee is giving the impression that the board of directors were of the belief that instructions from the shareholders are binding.

Ismee: I follow.

Harvinderjit: Follow means agree?

Ismee: That’s my answer I follow. This is something we have to follow full stop. You’re twisting words. We don’t say binding. We just follow.

10.36am: Harvinderjit asks if instructions from 1MDB shareholders must be followed.

Ismee: We follow, unless it’s something wrong. Something is not right.

10.38am: Harvinderjit asks what’s the standard the board follows to determine what’s good or not good.

Ismee: I can’t say in black and white.

Ismee adds that the SRC board will deliberate on it, including how to carry out instruction properly.

Harvinderjit: I do not understand what you are saying.

Ismee: Sometimes I do not understand what you are saying.

The last answer elicits laughter from those present in court.

11.08am: Harvinderjit grills Ismee on the shareholders’ resolutions on the investment terms made by SRC.

11.22am: They are still verifying the shareholders’ resolutions on investments.

11.30am: Court takes a short break.

11.50am: Court resumes.

11.51am: Harvinderjit continues going through the shareholders’ resolutions on investments with Ismee.

He asks if the resolutions are recorded as minutes. Ismee says they will.

11.53am: Ismee says administrative matters also do not require a shareholders’ resolution.

12.07pm: Ismee says that in his statement to the MACC, the company’s board of directors acted on the advice of Najib in his capacity as a shareholder.

This is despite his written statement tendered in court stating that the board acted on the advice of Najib in his capacity as advisor emeritus of SRC.

Harvinderjit: I put it to you that your statement to the MACC does not carry the statement that the board acted on the advice of prime minister as advisor emeritus (of SRC)?

Ismee: I disagree. I said that we acted on shareholder (which is Najib, who was then also finance minister).

Harvinderjit then seeks a short break for the defence to decide on the next course of action.

12.08pm: Court takes a break.

12.25pm: Members of the prosecution and defence are seen entering the chambers of judge Nazlan.

This is believed to be over the alleged contradiction of Ismee’s testimony on whether the company’s board followed Najib’s advice in his capacity as advisor emeritus to SRC or as a shareholder.

The issue arose when Ismee gave a statement in court which contradicted his witness statement, which was recorded by the MACC.

12.38pm: Najib’s trial came to a halt today when the Kuala Lumpur High Court allowed the defence’s application to adjourn as they need to check for alleged contradictions in the accumulated oral evidence of Ismee.

12.45pm: Proceedings adjourn for the day and will resume at 9am tomorrow.

Earlier reports:

Jun 12, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 23

Jun 11, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 22

Jun 10, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 21

May 28, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 20

May 27, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 19

May 15, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 18

May 14, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 17

May 9, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 16

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