Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 33

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Najib pressured treasury officials to rush government guarantee for SRC loan.

9am: Former prime minister Najib Razak has arrived at the courthouse. He is on the 4th floor attending his 1MDB corruption case management involving RM2.28 billion before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

Azneal Ishak/Malaysiakini

9.24am: Najib enters court and takes a seat in the front row of the public gallery.

Also seen in court are Attorney-General Tommy Thomas and other members of the prosecution, as well as Najib’s defence counsel Yusof Zainal Abiden and other members of the defence.

9.30am: Najib’s lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah enters the court. He is seen greeting other members of the defence team while waiting for proceedings to begin.

9.38am: Najib enters the dock as proceedings begin.

9.39am: Deputy public prosecutor V Sithambaram says that the defence taking 17 slides of exhibits out of court last Wednesday may amount to tampering of evidence.

He is referring to 17 slides of bank instructions for the transfer of millions of ringgit between SRC International, subsidiary Gandingan Mentari, and CSR partner Ihsan Perdana.

Sithambaram points out that despite the importance of these documents to the proceedings, the slides are missing from court today.

These slides were used by the defence last week to try and prove that former SRC director Suboh Md Yassin’s signatures had been forged between 2014 and 2015 to authorise the transfers.

“All these documents are important, as if not in court, it may amount to tampering.

“This is important as a police report had been made, but the exhibits are not here,” he says before judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.

Shafee explains that the slides were taken out because the defence wanted to make photocopies in a shop located outside the court.

“There is no hanky panky here, as someone has to photostat it,” Shafee says.

Defence lawyer Harvinderjit Singh then jumps in and says there is no issue of tampering, especially in light of the importance of the slides in terms of Suboh’s changed testimony.

Thomas counters that as the court is the natural custodian of exhibits, any attempt to remove these from court needs to be done in an open and transparent manner.

The judge then asks the defence to obtain permission from the court before removing any exhibits.

10.05am: Suboh takes the stand.

Harvinderjit asks Suboh if he knows Krystle Yap, Joanna Yu and Daniel Lee, to which the witness answers “no”.

Suboh says then-SRC CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil had asked him to go away from Malaysia.

“He asked me to go away from Malaysia. He wants me to go to Bangkok.”

Azneal Ishak/Malaysiakini

This was in 2018.

Shafee: Did you ask him what for?

Suboh: No, I didn’t.

Shafee: Why didn’t you ask?

Suboh: Because I refused to go.

Shafee: In 2015, he asked you to leave the country. Did you go out of the country in 2015?

Suboh: Yes.

Shafee: Where?

Suboh: Bangkok

Shafee: Do you remember the name of the hotel?

Suboh: I can’t remember.

Shafee: Where else you go in 2015? Did you go to Abu Dhabi?

Suboh: Yes.

Shafee: Who gave you the tickets?

Suboh: There was this guy, a Thai fellow. He passed me the tickets.

Shafee: Was the ticket for you and your wife?

Suboh: Yes

Shafee: How long did you stay there?

Suboh: One week.

Shafee: And where did you go after that? Bangkok to Abu Dhabi then to…?

Suboh: Back to Bangkok. There was a return ticket.

Shafee: So where did you stay this time. Was it the same hotel?

Suboh: No, I stayed in a different hotel.

Shafee: You must have had a reason on why you needed to go away. Did you ask Nik Faisal why? Why follow instructions to go away?

Suboh: No. I didn’t ask.

Shafee: Did you do anything wrong

Suboh: No, I didn’t do anything wrong.

Shafee: Did your wife ask why you were leaving? Did she ask if you are having a second honeymoon? Knowing wives, they would like to ask. Did you find out?

Suboh: No, I didn’t.

Shafee: I put it to you that Nik Faisal misled you at that time…he misled you into thinking you did something wrong, and to bring down the temperature, he suggested you go away?

Suboh: Yes.

Shafee is referring to Suboh’s signatures on 17 banking instructions for the transfer of millions of ringgit between SRC, subsidiary Gandingan Mentari and CSR partner Ihsan Perdana between 2014 and 2015, among others.

Shafee: In 2015, did you know that Nik Faisal did something wrong?

Suboh: I had no idea. I just trusted him.

Shafee: When did you come back to Kuala Lumpur? You went to Bangkok, then to Abu Dhabi and back to Bangkok. When did you come back to Kuala Lumpur?

Suboh: Sometime that week?

Shafee: Was it still in 2015?

Suboh: I can’t remember.

Shafee: What made you return here?

Suboh: I feel like I can come back here.

Shafee: You feel safe to come back?

Suboh: Yes.

Shafee: Were you aware that you were sought after by the MACC in 2015?

Suboh: Yes, in fact, I volunteered. I called them to give my statement.

10.35am: Suboh says then he received a call from the MACC telling him not to come.

Shafee: Did you get the name of the officer?

Suboh: No, I didn’t. I’m sorry for that.

Shafee: You made an appointment with the MACC, then you said received a call telling you not to come. Weren’t you suspicious?

Suboh: I was very confused.

Shafee: Now or then?

Suboh: Then.

Shafee: In 2018, why did you leave on a voting day?

Suboh: I just voted and decided to leave.

Shafee: Among all other days, why did you decide to leave on voting day?

Suboh: How do I explain. I think I need to take a break.

Shafee: You told MACC on two separate days that the signatures weren’t yours. You gave detailed explanations about this. I think someone threatened you to change your statement.

Suboh: Not in that term.

10.45am: As the defence tells the court that they have finished cross-examining Suboh, Sithambaram requests for a break to let court assistants set up a projector and obtain original documents which are being photocopied by the defence.

Sithambaram tells the court that he needs the documents and the projector for his re-examination of the witness.

Before allowing for a short recess, Justice Nazlan then asks the prosecution if there are any updates in their bid to request for a postponement of Najib’s 1MDB trial.

Thomas informs the court that Justice Sequerah earlier turned down the application and that the 1MDB hearing would commence on Aug 19.

Under cross-examination by Sithambaram, Suboh agrees that Faisal’s signatures on bank documents tendered in the court look identical.

This comes after Sithambaram projects Faisal’s signatures onto a screen.

The same method was previously employed by the defence to compare Suboh’s signatures on the same bank documents.

Last week, the witness agreed when the defence suggested that his own signatures were copied and pasted from an original.

Sithambaram: So first (I show you) a set of four, then show you 10. You agree, looking at those signatures, it appears that someone has copied and pasted Nik Faisal’s signature, just like yours?

Suboh: Yes.

Sithambaram: So it could mean Nik Faisal did not sign all 14 Rentas (real-time electronic transfer of funds and securities system) documents?

Suboh: Yes.

During this process, Shafee rises from his seat to remind Sithambaram not to ask direct questions during re-examination.

Sithambaram defends his line of questioning, however, and tells the court that he is questioning the witness about direct evidence tendered in court.

11.31am: Suboh admits that his memory has been somewhat affected by a stroke and bypass procedure during re-examination by Sithambaram.

“My health is not very good, as a result of a bypass and stroke. It affected my throat, my ability to swallow.

Seth Akmal/TMI

“My memory is somewhat affected,” the 68-year-old tells the court.

11.58am: As Sithambaram verifies the Rentas documents, he asks if Suboh knows Krystle Yap.

Sithambaram: Do you know that Krystle Yap is a relationship manager with the with AmIslamic bank?

Suboh: No. I don’t know.

11.59am: Sithambaram says he’ll now go through some SRC board meeting minutes.

The prosecutor shows Suboh some minutes.

Sithambaram: These are minutes of a board meeting held on June 8, 2012. You confirm that you were present at this meeting?

Suboh: Yes.

12.18pm: Sithambaram is now going through SRC’s bank statements.

12.34pm: Harvinderjit argues with Sithambaram on why he is going through SRC’s transactions when they’ve gone through them with the bankers.

Sithambaram says there is no harm verifying them with Suboh and promises Nazlan not to take too much time.

Sithambaram: From what we’ve shown you, which is forged, did you see any money go into Nik Faisal’s account?

Suboh: No

Sithambaram: Any money went into your account?

Suboh: No

Sithambaram: Are you aware who appointed Nik Faisal as CEO and later as director of SRC International?

Suboh: No, I don’t know.

Sithambaram: At the time you and Nik Faisal were directors of SRC, was he always in town (in the country)?

Suboh: As far as I remember, sometimes he was in the country, sometimes not.

Sithambaram: Do you know if Nik Faisal had a mandate to deal with Najib’s personal bank account?

Suboh: I don’t know.

12.51pm: Harvinderjit again argues over the line of questioning.

Sithambaram says he was just asking a normal question as to understand things.

Nazlan asks to proceed.

Sithambaram advises Suboh not to be worried of anything and speak only the truth.

The insertion of Article 117 into SRC International’s articles of association for the appointment of an adviser emeritus changed its character, the court hears.

Suboh testifies under re-examination by Sithambaram that SRC was no longer a “normal company” after the article was introduced.

Suboh: The insertion of Article 117 changed the makeup. No more a normal company. It has that article… You have to, in order to operate, you have to seek instruction from whoever is sitting there.

Sithambaram: This adviser emeritus, who is he?

Suboh: He was the prime minister then.

Sithambaram: And just for the record, who was the prime minister then?

Suboh: Datuk Seri Najib (Abdul Razak).

Suboh then testifies that neither SRC nor its subsidiary Gandingan Mentari lodged any reports with authorities over its losses.

Sithambaram: These transactions were all carried out, from what we have shown you, between 2014 and 2015. And these involved hundreds of millions of ringgit. Did SRC or Gandingan Mentari make any report of the funds stolen from accounts?

Suboh: No.

Sithambaram: Are you aware if SRC or Gandingan Mentari took any legal action against the bank?

Suboh: Not that I know of.

1pm: The prosecution tells the court that it has completed the re-examination of Suboh and requests for the hearing to break for lunch before continuing with its next witness.

Nazlan orders proceedings to resume at 2.30pm.

2.39pm: Court resumes. Taking the stand is 43rd witness Maliami Hamad, 65, secretary of the borrowings/loans division of the Finance Ministry.

He tells the court that his statement was his own and he was assisted by the prosecutor.

2.46pm: Maliami says he agreed to issue two government guarantee letters to Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) in 2011 and 2012.

2.49pm: Maliami says on August 12, 2011, SRC wrote to the ministry to request for a government guarantee.

2.51pm: He says Nik Faisal and Zahid Taib came to MoF on August 15, 2011.

2.52pm: Prosecutor Suhaimi Ibrahim questions Maliami.

3.02pm: Maliami says on January 27, 2012, SRC executives came to MoF to request for the second government guarantee.

3.15pm: SRC’s application for government guarantees on its two loans in 2011 and 2012 were processed quickly as the company received special attention from Najib.

Maliami testifies that this was the reason given to him by the Treasury secretary-general when told to speed up the application process.

While Maliami did not explicitly name his then-superior, Wan Abd Aziz Wan Abdullah served as the Treasury secretary-general when the cabinet approved the guarantees for the SRC loans.

“During the two applications (for loan guarantees), I was asked by my subordinate officer Afidah Azwa why these needed to be processed in a hurry,” he says during examination-in-chief by Suhaimi.

“This was because Afidah did not have enough time to verify information received from SRC International before they were put into the cabinet memo to be tabled in the cabinet meeting.

Azneal Ishak/Malaysiakini

“I informed (her) that the order I received from the Treasury secretary-general was to do it as soon as possible, because SRC International receives special attention from prime minister Najib himself, and that the need for the funds was urgent.”

3.30pm: Maliami testifies that SRC’s application for a government guarantee for the first RM2 billion tranche of its loan from KWAP in late 2011 was merely one paragraph.

Maliami says that the paragraph was insufficient to be presented in a paper to the cabinet.

Suhaimi: Did you have the opportunity then to check the requirement in the government guarantee, in line with what was sought by SRC through (then-CEO) Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil at the time?

Maliami: At the time, the information given to me was limited. The letter (from SRC applying for the government guarantee) only had two things: terms of the loan and justification for the loan, which was only one paragraph. This was not enough to be presented to the cabinet.

The justification merely reads out as “the purpose of the government guarantee is to ensure continuous energy resources (sumber tenaga berterusan) in the period for this country to ensure the country’s development.”

This information was quite limited, and not enough for the cabinet (to consider whether to approve the guarantee).

3.40pm: Najib had agreed to a 2012 memo from then-Treasury secretary-general Wan Abd Aziz Wan Abdullah on rejecting an application from SRC on how it would use the funds it was loaned.

Specifically, this relates to SRC’s application to widen the scope of what the second RM2 billion tranche of its loan from KWAP could be used for.

Maliami testifies that Najib agreed to a memo on SRC using its loan in accordance with a cabinet decision on Feb 8, 2012.

For the record, the cabinet on that date approved its second government guarantee for SRC to secure a second RM2 billion loan for investment in the natural resources sector.

According to Maliami, the company wanted the funds to also cover its working capital.

The words “working capital” were included in the loan agreement signed between SRC and KWAP.

Maliami tells the court that SRC met with the Finance Ministry and KWAP on April 12, 2012, over this request, after which Wan Abd Aziz issued the memo.

“In the meeting with SRC International and KWAP, SRC International representatives asked for the loan utilisation purpose to be widened to include working capital,” Maliami testifies, reading from the memo.

Najjua Zulkefli/TMI

“However, the request shall not be considered as it was not in line with the cabinet decision (on Feb 8, 2012).

“Second, amendments (should) be made on the loan agreement in line with the above recommendation through an additional agreement before a guarantee letter is issued to KWAP.”

Maliami says the memo was later referred to Najib, who agreed with Wan Abd Aziz’s recommendations.

However, the witness then tells the court that a later cabinet memo, which was signed by Najib on May 11, 2012, stated otherwise.

Maliami agrees to a suggestion by DPP Suhaimi that this memo to cabinet requested amending the loan utilisation purpose to include working capital for SRC.

The cabinet later approved the amendment, he adds.

3.50pm: Maliami says he signed a letter to KWAP in 2012 under the order of Wan Abd Aziz.

Maliami testifies that Wan Abd Aziz had refused to sign the letter, which was addressed to then-KWAP CEO Azian Mohd Noh.

The letter requested that KWAP disburse the RM2 billion loan amount to SRC before the issuance of the government guarantee.

Under examination-in-chief by Suhaimi, Maliami says this was an extraordinary request, and that he had only seen in once in his seven years managing loan affairs in the ministry.

Suhaimi: But why did you sign the letter in this case?

Maliami: On the morning of March 28, I still remember that then-Treasury secretary-general Wan Abd Aziz had called me on the phone, requesting for the loan from KWAP to SRC International to be disbursed on the day.

Thus, I prepared the draft for this letter (to KWAP) and went to see the Treasury secretary-general because the order came from him. I informed him that we needed to send a letter to KWAP. I met the Treasury secretary-general, and he saw the letter and he agreed.

Initially, I put his name as a signatory (of the letter), but the Treasury secretary-general asked me to sign it (instead).

Suhaimi: You know this is not the normal practice?

Maliami: This was the first time, never happened before. Because by that time, the letter of guarantee was not signed yet and was still with solicitors.

Suhaimi: Then why did you agree to sign the letter informing KWAP to disburse (the loan)?

Maliami: At my level, my communication is only up to the level of Treasury secretary-general. Whatever order is given by the Treasury secretary-general, as the officer in charge of (handling) government guarantees, I had to follow.

At that time, he told me the disbursement needed to be expedited, he mentioned that this was because the prime minister asked for it to be so. That was all he said.

4pm: The late Azlin Alias, former private secretary to Najib, presented himself as someone who could fix any administrative issues – including SRC’s application for a government guarantee on its RM2 billion loan in August 2011, Maliami says this during examination-in-chief by Suhaimi.

When Suhaimi asks him if this includes the application for a government guarantee for the RM2 billion loan from KWAP, Maliami agrees.

“In this context, the involvement of the late (Azlin) was to help Finance Ministry officers to prepare the cabinet paper, within hours. If there is a problem, he said he could help.

“(This includes) the first (cabinet) paper for the first government guarantee in SRC International’s application,” he says.

Maliami says that Azlin had promised at the time that if there was insufficient information on administrative issues related to cabinet approval, he could help settle it, and even speed up the process.

4.08pm: Suhaimi ends his questioning. Court takes a short break.

4.31pm: Court resumes with Harvinderjit beginning cross-examination.

4.55pm: Maliami agrees that when Azlin claimed that he could fix administrative issues related to SRC’s application for a government guarantee on its loan, it did not amount to an order.

Harvinderjit: In regards to Azlin saying that if one needs any help, just tell him, it did not amount to an order, right?

Maliami: Correct.

4.54pm: Harvinderjit ends his cross-examination. He tells Nazlan that his fellow defence counsel Farhan Read has some questions for Maliami.

Nazlan decides to call it a day. Court resumes at 9am tomorrow.

Earlier reports:

July 3, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 32

July 3, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 31

July 1, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 30

June 20, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 29

June 19, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 28

June 18, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 27

June 17, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 26

June 14, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 25

June 13, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 24

June 12, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 23

June 11, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 22

June 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