Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 29

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Ministry staff tells the court that SRC is the PM’s company, while former SRC director tells of fleeing country in fear.

9am: Former prime minister Najib Razak enters the courtroom and takes a seat at the front row of the public gallery to await the proceedings.

Seth Akmal/TMI

Also in court are DPP V Sithambaram and other members of the prosecution team as well as Najib’s defence team as they wait for the trial to start.

9.24am: Najib’s lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah enters the courtroom and joins the rest of the defence team.

9.27am: Buzzer in the courtroom rings. Najib enters the dock as proceedings begin.

9.32am: Court in session. Shafee cross-examines Finance Ministry Strategic Investment deputy secretary Afidah Azwa Abdul Aziz, the 41st witness.

9.33am: She only started working in the guarantee unit in 2010. From 2010 to 2011, Afidah was involved in preparing five government guarantees.

9.45am: Afidah testifies that she was told “we only answer to the prime minister” in Aug 2011 by Zahid Taib, a representative from SRC.

She is explaining what transpired during a meeting between her and Zahid as well as the company’s then CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, over the company’s bid for a government guarantee for the RM2 billion loan from the Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP) in late 2011.

Afidah: When we tried to get information from SRC International, the answer given was “We only answer to the prime minister”.

Shafee: Who told you this?

Afidah: Zahid said he is responsible to the PM (then prime minister Najib)

Shafee: But you did not complain to anybody else?

Afidah: I reported to my division head Maliami (Ahmad).

Shafee: He did not do anything and you just accepted it in the end?

Afidah: Yes.

9.55am: Afidah testifies that she was put under duress by her superior in 2011 in order to speed up the processing of SRC’s application for government guarantee in the RM2 billion loan from KWAP to the company in 2011.

She is explaining to Shafee what she meant by “digesa” by her then-superior Maliami Ahmad to speed up the application.

Shafee: I suggest that this process by Maliami of hurrying up, is not an issue of “digesa-gesa”, only merely to speed up the process (percepat proses). You were not “digesa”.

Afidah: I was digesa, I was under duress.

Shafee: It was Maliami who put you under duress?

Afidah: Yes.

Shafee: Is he still your superior?

Afidah: Not anymore.

Shafee: Thus, now it is easier for you to explain.

She also says that she did not record any complaint she had made over the issue.

10.13am: Shafee asks Afidah what was the minister of finance II’s role in the drafting of the memorandum.

The finance minister II at that time was Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah.

Shafee asks her why Husni was picked as the minister of finance II? He implies that Husni was a leading merchant banker before he joined politics. If anybody, he would know the inside-out of memorandums, such as government guarantees etc.

10.18am: Shafee is done with his cross-examination. He apologises to the witness if he was too harsh in his line of questioning with her.

10.38am: Afidah says she had to believe what Nik Faisal told MoF because she was told to prepare the memorandum a few hours after meeting with the former SRC CEO.

10.41am: Afidah says she asked why she had to prepare the memorandum and was told that she had to because her boss told her that this was the prime minister’s company.

Seth Akmal/TMI

The defence then argues that Afidah’s statement is hearsay. DPP V Sithambaram says the law is very clear, she is testifying on what happened and that is not hearsay.

10.57am: Nazlan says the answer she gave arose because of the cross-examination. He allows her answer. The witness is then excused from the stand.

Court takes a 10-minute break.

11.19am: Mazidah Abdul Majid, former cabinet deputy secretary-general, is back on the stand as the 40th witness.

Shafee begins cross-examination, picking up from where he left off two days ago.

11.23am:  Shafee goes through the cabinet code of ethics with Mazidah.

11.24am: She says it’s the general procedure for ministers not to be involved in cabinet meetings if there’s vested interest in the issue discussed.

It says in the code that if there are other ministers who have private firms with their names on them, it’s not allowed.

Ministers who hold shares can’t have a controlling interest, Mazidah says.

11.27am: Shafee says conflict of interest in clause 4 of the code of ethics is his area of importance and he will prove that there was no conflict of interest.

The code states that you must have a personal interest for it to be considered a conflict of interest.

11.41am: Shafee says the code doesn’t apply to the PM because he doesn’t have personal interest in SRC.

11.44am: Mazidah says in more than 21 years, she has never had a situation like this where the PM had vested interest in a company. She was a cabinet secretary when Mahathir, Abdullah Badawi and Najib were Prime Ministers, and when Mahathir became Prime Minister again before she retired.

11.52am: Shafee asks her if someone assumes the post of Prime Minister, they are automatically linked with MoF Inc, especially if he’s the minister of finance.

Shafee says Petronas comes under MoF Inc. Petronas is also under the wings of the PM.

Shafee asks her whether she remembers if Dr Mahathir ever walked out of cabinet meetings when the cabinet discussed Petronas’ bailout of Bank Bumiputra (in the 1980s).

She says this was not during her tenure, adding that she does not think Dr Mahathir left the cabinet meetings.

11.56am: Shafee says in 2012 Petronas bailed out MISC – a decision sharply criticised. Do you agree with me the prime minister never walked out of a meeting?

Mazidah says she can’t remember.

11.58am: Mazidah says she has to check her minutes during cabinet meetings, as ministers walked in and out.

In her memory, Najib never walked out of cabinet meetings when MoF Inc was discussed and neither did the finance minister II.

11.59am: Mazidah says usually when it involves MoF Inc, ministers never walk out.

Shafee says if the PM leaves and if the second finance minister leaves, then there will be no one to brief the cabinet. This means they’re abandoning their duty as the minister concerned. She says she’s unsure.

12.03pm: In her witness statement, Mazidah cited that Khairy Jamaluddin exited a cabinet meeting because he had vested interest in the memorandum.

Shafee asks her why he walked out. She says she can’t reveal why because of the Official Secrets Act.

She can only reveal the company involved, which is Enra Land Sdn Bhd.

12.04pm: The owner of the company is related to Khairy, therefore, he had to walk out.

The second instance is Hishammuddin Hussein as defence minister walking out when the company involved was Nuzen Sdn Bhd.

Hishammuddin’s relative was someone in the company.

12.08pm: She also cites an instance when Najib walked out of a cabinet meeting because they were discussing a memorandum on CIMB bank.

She says Najib walked out because a blood relation was involved with the bank.

12.10pm: She is asked if Najib ever walked out when SRC was discussed, and she says no.

Shafee then asks if this is her opinion.

She replies that she doesn’t give opinions, she is merely stating a fact that Najib did not walk out when asked the question.

Seth Akmal/TMI

12.15pm: Yusof Zainal Abiden continues the cross-examination.

He asks how a memorandum is tabled in the cabinet meeting.

Mazidah says the memorandums are arranged following the seniority of the ministers tabling them.

The agenda is then arranged according to that. After the PM’s speech at cabinet meetings, they will start discussing the memorandums.

Cabinet either discusses the memorandum or sometimes just approve or reject them, Mazidah says.

12.26pm: Harvinderjit Singh continues the cross-examination.

12.30pm: Mazidah says she doesn’t know if Najib has personal interest in SRC or received money from the entity.

Sithambaram is now examining her.

She says in this case, there was no deliberation over the memorandum. The minister did not have time to excuse himself.

But she says the minister had an opportunity to declare his vested interest in the memorandum and leave.

The witness is excused from the stand.

12.34pm: Former SRC director Suboh Md Yassin is the next witness on the stand. He has been placed under the witness protection programme by the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Seth Akmal/TMI

He will be reading a witness statement he prepared with the help of the MACC.

12.41pm: Suboh had served in many government departments until his retirement in January 2009.

After he retired, he worked in SRC as a non-executive director. He was appointed by Najib in 2011.

His job was to attend Board of Directors’ meetings and make decisions based on the agreement of the board.

SRC was formed as a strategic resource company. He says SRC intended to invest in coal, aluminium and uranium.

He says the board of directors were obliged to listen to the advisor emeritus, who was Najib.

12.47pm: He says all SRC shares were transferred to MoF Inc on February 14, 2012, and they were signed off by Nik Faisal.

12.50pm: He names former witness Ismee Ismail and Nik Faisal as board members.

Suboh confirms SRC had made a loan request from KWAP for RM3.95 billion as working capital and general overseas investments.

He says SRC subsequently made a loan request from KWAP for RM2 billion.

He says the board of directors had discussed this and Nik Faisal told the board he would get the loan backed by a “government guarantee”.

12.59pm: Shafee addresses Judge Nazlan about tomorrow’s hearing, saying he and his team will be in the Court of Appeal. He says he cannot promise that he will make it back from the appellate court by noon for the trial.

Sithambaram says the prosecution will wait for the defence if it continues tomorrow but asks Nazlan to vacate tomorrow’s session.

1pm: Proceedings break for lunch and will resume at 2.30pm.

2.38pm: Proceedings resume with the further examination-in-chief of Suboh.

Suboh says Nik Faisal had arranged the loan agreement for the two RM2 billion loans that SRC got from KWAP.

2.50pm: Suboh says he was a signatory for a facility agreement between SRC and KWAP for the loan.

He has corroborated that the letter of guarantee had Najib’s signature on it.

Suboh says he has very limited knowledge of the two KWAP loans as Nik Faisal had handled all the transactions.

3pm: Suboh now speaks about how SRC’s CSR company Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd was formed.

He says they wanted to help flood victims via Ihsan Perdana.

3.08pm: He says an RM250 million grant was given by SRC to Ihsan Perdana.

He says in his opinion, the grant amount was too large and that they needed to get a signed resolution from the board of directors.

Suboh says he brought up issues of compliance regarding this grant but Nik Faisal told him, “It will be taken care of” and this decision had been approved by someone “at the top”.

In Suboh’s opinion, the person “at the top” was in reference to Najib, who was SRC’s adviser emeritus.

He says he never brought it up with Nik Faisal again.

Suboh has corroborated SRC chairman Ismee Ismail’s testimony that all matters relating to the entity went through Nik Faisal and Najib.

3.13pm: Suboh says he had brought up issues on due diligence and compliance with Nik Faisal.

He says Nik Faisal always had the same answer: “I have got clearance from the top”.

Suboh says “person at the top” refers to Najib.

3.17pm: Suboh says he had spoken out against a proposal that SRC was going to invest the loans given by KWAP in Abu Dhabi.

He says he told the board that there was no “visibility target date”, no “clear vision” and that due diligence be carried out before moving forward with the investment.

3.23pm: Referring to SRC meeting minutes, Suboh says he had warned against an investment that SRC proposed to make in Indonesia.

He says this investment was proposed by Nik Faisal but Suboh warned that “the business landscape is different in Indonesia compared to Malaysia”.

Suboh says he felt responsible for SRC’s money.

He says as a director he did not have any power as everything was decided by Nik Faisal and Najib, with Najib holding the ultimate power to hire and fire any director.

He says he did not resign from SRC because he felt responsible for the investments it had made and wanted to make sure the funds were safely returned.

3.27pm: Suboh says in 2015 he had called the MACC to make an appointment to discuss about SRC. He then received a call by an anonymous person, saying he was with the MACC, warning him: “Datuk, no need to come, you just go away.”

He says that person had asked him to leave Malaysia.

He doesn’t know who called him.

DPP Ishak then asks Suboh what was he going to tell the MACC when he contacted the agency then.

According to the witness, he took the initiative to explain what he knew about the company, as SRC had become a hot issue.

Ishak: Do you know who was the caller?

Suboh: I did not recognise the voice.

Ishak: Did he identify himself?

Suboh: He only said that he was from MACC.

Ishak: Do you know what his race (might be)?

Suboh: He spoke in Malay.

3.30pm: He says he felt scared because Najib was prime minister and Suboh did not know what would happen to him or his family.

Azlan Zamhari/Malaysiakini

He says he made the decision to go to Bangkok for a month, with his wife.

He says they paid their own expenses for the trip.

He says he felt scared because at that time Nik Faisal had called him and told him about the SRC case and warned him to run away as it implicated Najib.

While in Bangkok, Suboh says he had met a mysterious man who gave him and his wife plane tickets to Abu Dhabi. They took the flight to Abu Dhabi, and stayed at the Rosewood hotel for a week.

He says the flight tickets and stay were paid for but he was not sure who paid for them.

3.34pm: After a week, Suboh says he flew to Bangkok and back to Malaysia.

“When I came back, Nik Faisal called me and asked me to flee again to avoid the authorities.”

He says he had made the decision not to run this time, and stayed in Malaysia to help with the investigation.

He says Nik Faisal called him to tell him to flee shortly after the general election.

3.37pm: Court is in recess.

4.01pm: Court resumes with Suboh being examined by the prosecution.

He says after he received the anonymous phone call from an MACC officer, he did not need to make a police report as he trusted it was an MACC officer.

4.15pm: Suboh reveals he went to Switzerland in September 2013 with the board of directors and Nik Faisal to make sure the money they invested was still with BSI bank in Lugano.

Ismee Ismail had previously testified to this.

5pm: Court adjourns for the day. Hearing will resume on July 1.

Earlier reports:

Jun 19, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 28

Jun 18, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 27

Jun 17, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 26

Jun 14, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 25

Jun 13, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 24

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