Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 34

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Najib approved the switch of SRC ownership, but no due diligence was carried out in the transfer from 1MDB to MoF Inc.

Najjua Zulkefli/TMI

9.05am: Former prime minister Najib Razak enters the 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 the former premier’s defence team.

Defence lawyer Farhan Read is seen preparing for his cross-examination of the 43rd witness, former Finance Ministry officer Maliami Hamad.

9.10am: Najib steps into the dock as proceedings begin.

9.30am: Maliami testifies that he was never informed by his superiors that the Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) decided in 2011 not to loan RM2 billion to SRC International directly, but instead to either 1MDB or the government.

This was despite then-Treasury secretary-general Wan Abd Aziz Wan Abdullah and deputy Nurzirah Bahari sitting in on a KWAP investment panel meeting on July 19, 2011, when the decision was made.

Under cross-examination by Farhan, Maliami says he never knew that KWAP reached that decision, even during his first meeting with SRC representatives on Aug 12, 2011.

In that meeting, the SRC representatives discussed its application for a government guarantee on the first RM2 billion tranche of its loan from KWAP.

Maliami says he also did not know that the Finance Ministry chose to go with the second option – for KWAP to loan RM2 billion to the government, which would in turn loan it to 1MDB.

SRC was a subsidiary of 1MDB at the time.

Farhan: But it is stated here (referring to meeting minutes), that the Finance Ministry had chosen option B for MGS (Malaysian government security).

Maliami: I did not know about this proposal.

Farhan: If this is true, which division would be responsible to look into this option?

Maliami: Finance Loan Management Financial Markets and Actuary Division (Maliam’s division).

Farhan: But you were not involved?

Maliami: I did not know about this. And I was involved (in preparing) MGS.

Farhan: It seems that these matters were known to Treasury secretary-general and Nurzirah?

Maliami: Correct.

Farhan: They did not discuss this with you before your meeting (with SRC)?

Maliami: No.

9.46am: Maliami says a cabinet meeting memorandum, which was to be tabled to seek the cabinet’s approval for SRC’s first RM2 billion loan, was forwarded to then-minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nor Mohamed Yakcop for his consideration and signature.

9.49am: Referring to the memorandum, Maliami reads out the purpose of the loan which was to invest in natural resources.

The witness says the loan was not to pay for operational costs and funding for that could have been obtained from grants or other government assistance.

Maliami says he doesn’t know if the loan was used for any other purpose than what was stated in the memorandum.

9.53am: The memorandum was tabled and the minutes of the cabinet meeting a week later was also tabled.

9.55am: Maliami says he met then SRC CEO and managing director Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil at the Ministry of Finance.

At that meeting on January 27, 2012, Faisal brought some officers but Maliami doesn’t recall them.

10.39am: Maliami says MoF Inc was not under his scope of work and therefore, he can’t comment on it.

10.50am: Maliami agrees with Farhan on the significance of the cabinet approving the government guarantee on SRC’s loan from KWAP.

Farhan: Based on the February 2012 cabinet minutes, you agree that what is more important is that cabinet members as a whole agree to give the government guarantee, while the documents prepared are a mere formality.

Maliami: Agreed.

Farhan: This is documented in the Feb 8, 2012 cabinet meeting.

Maliami: Correct.

11.28am: Maliami testifies that SRC was firm when it sought an amendment to the terms of the 2012 loan from KWAP.

“I am not sure why the issue was raised. What I am sure of is that we had a problem issuing the letter of guarantee, as the letter of guarantee and loan agreement fund usage terms must be the same.

Azneal Ishak/Malaysiakini

“In the agreement signed, the term was for general investment and working capital, so it became a problem. SRC International was firm in wanting this included, so it became a problem.

“The problem persisted until the amendment was made to the purpose of the use of the funds based on the cabinet (meeting). When the cabinet meeting agreed to insert working capital, then it was resolved.

“SRC was firm in seeking the working capital of the investment,” he says.

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

On that date, the cabinet 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.

11.49am: Maliami says he was pressured and clarified that the term “pressured” meant that it was stressful because the officers had to create the memorandum quicker than usual.

There was no malice when he used the word “pressure” in the statement, he says.

11.51am: The instructions came from Najib because the communications came from the higher-ups, Maliami says.

Grants were not used for working capital as SRC had requested.

Grants are usually given to new companies to enable them to begin operations. Maliami says SRC received a grant from the Economic Planning Unit for RM20 million.

12pm: The court hears from Maliami that the cabinet in 2011 and 2012 was furnished with all the facts on SRC when deliberating its applications for government guarantees.

This includes the fact that SRC was a new company set up with RM1 million capital, and that it had no track record.

Maliami says during cross-examination by lead defence lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah that a memo to the cabinet on SRC’s application for a second government guarantee included the fact that it had already obtained an RM2 billion loan from KWAP the previous year.

Shafee: There were no lies to mislead the cabinet?

Maliami: Correct.

Shafee: And the memo for second government guarantee also had an additional fact, which mentions that the company had previously taken an RM2 billion loan, and that if this second guarantee is given, it will become RM4 billion? And this was explained to the cabinet clearly?

Maliami: Correct.

12.05pm: Maliami denies telling a subordinate that SRC belongs to the prime minister, the court hears.

Under cross-examination by Shafee, Maliami is asked to confirm if he ever said this to Afidah Azwa when his division was processing government guarantees for SRC’s two RM2 billion loans in 2011 and 2012.

Azneal Ishak/Malaysiakini

Afidah was an officer under Maliami’s supervision at the Loan Management Financial Markets and Actuary Division of the Finance Ministry.

He says Afidah might have used “daily conversation slang” when she previously described in court what she was told.

“Maybe she used daily slang to reflect that SRC is a company that receives attention from the prime minister himself. Maybe she used daily language,” he testifies.

Najjua Zulkefli/TMI

Maliami agrees to Shafee’s suggestion that what he meant by a company that receives attention from the prime minister is one like Petronas.

Previously, Afidah said that she was told by Maliami that SRC belonged to the prime minister.

She was asked whether Maliami had explained why the company’s application for government guarantees should be expedited by the Finance Ministry.

12.22pm: Maliami is allowed to leave the stand.

Najjua Zulkefli/TMI

(L) Mat Noor and (R) Maliami.

12.30pm: The next witness taking the stand is Mat Noor Nawi, 64, a retired civil servant. He tells the court that he was deputy treasury secretary-general (policy) at the Finance Ministry before he retired.

He oversaw three departments, one of which was MoF Inc. His main task was to supervise the 100 companies underneath MoF Inc.

They monitored the financial statements of these companies quarterly.

They also monitored the companies’ activities including investments, for which they must get prior approval from MoF Inc.

Mat Noor testifies that the change of ownership of SRC from 1MDB to MOF Inc in 2012 was a “top-down” decision.

He says this change of ownership had already been decided by Najib.

He adds that Najib had indicated in a January 2012 letter that he agreed to the transfer.

Normally, Mat Noor explains, companies make their applications for ownership changes to the Finance Ministry, before papers are taken up through several layers – including the Treasury secretary-general, second finance minister and if needed, the finance minister – for approval.

12.50pm: Mat Noor testifies that he was surprised by Najib immediately signing a draft memo for SRC to be fully owned by MOF Inc.

He tells DPP Suhaimi Ibrahim during examination-in-chief that he and 1MDB representative Zahid Talib met Najib at the Subang Airport on Feb 3, 2012.

“He (Najib) had read every paragraph of the draft memo, every page, then to my surprise he signed on the first page of the memo indicating his agreement with the suggestion,” he says.

Mat Noor says that as a result, he had to go back to the Finance Ministry office and ask the minister’s private secretary to make a photocopy of the draft memo so that another copy with a proper letterhead and stamps of the prime minister and finance minister could be prepared.

He adds that he did not usually meet the prime minister in that manner, but did so on this occasion as it was important to get his signature on the document.

1.15pm: Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali allows the court to break for lunch. Proceedings will resume at 2.45pm.

2.52pm: Proceedings resume with the examination-in-chief of Mat Noor.

2.53pm: Mat Noor tells the court that Zahid Talib was the liaison between the 1MDB and the Finance Ministry – including in the transfer of SRC to MOF Inc.

“Zahid is a staff member of 1MDB, he is the government liaison officer.

“He is the contact between 1MDB and Finance Ministry in many matters. He dealt with me since my time at the Economic Planning Unit (EPU),” Mat Noor says.

2.54pm: Najib signed the draft memo for the transfer of SRC to MOF Inc on the bonnet of his car.

This happened, according to Mat Noor, after he and 1MDB representative Zahid Talib met Najib at the Subang Airport on Feb 3, 2012.

“The car ferrying the then-prime minister stopped beside the waiting area of the airport.

“I exited the waiting area and went to the car and showed the draft memo to him at the side of the car.

“The prime minister (Najib) looked through the contents of the memo while standing beside the car.

“After perusing to page four (of the draft memo), he signed and made notations on the first page of the memo, while putting the draft memo on the bonnet of the car.

“That was where he signed the memo,” he says.

3.02pm: Mat Noor testifies that to his knowledge, no due diligence was conducted on the transfer of SRC from 1MDB to MOF Inc.

Azneal Ishak/Malaysiakini

“As far as I know, this due diligence was not implemented when I was there (as the Treasury deputy secretary-general) until November 2012,” he says. 

3.14pm: Judge Nazlan calls for a recess.

3.39pm: Defence counsel Harvinderjit continues his cross-examination of Mat Noor.

Mat Noor says he never prepared a witness statement after having his statement taken by the MACC.

Mat Noor is one of only a few witnesses that does not have a witness statement.

He says he had a meeting with the prosecution team last week, in which they asked him to verify some documents and sought the reasons as to why the memorandum was created.

3.50pm: Mat Noor says MoF Inc is an entirely separate entity.

He adds that in 2011 and 2012, the finance minister and finance minister 2 were in charge of MoF Inc. During that period, Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah was finance minister 2.

Lim Huey Teng/Malaysiakini

Harvinderjit: Would I be correct to say that not every minute is signed (by the prime minister) in the office; it (document) can be brought to his attention and he signs?

Mat Noor: Yes.

Harvinderjit: It does not matter where he (Najib) signs it as long as he signs it, even if on a car bonnet.

Mat Noor: Yes.

The last question elicits a chuckle from the witness, and laughter from the lawyer and those in the public gallery.

4.45pm: Mat Noor testifies that he had delivered a copy of a memo on the transfer of SRC’s ownership from 1MDB to MoF Inc to Husni in 2012, and explained the matter to the minister after seeking approval for the transfer from Najib.

Mat Noor says that Husni did not have any objection to the ownership transfer.

5pm: Najib appointed Mat Noor as an advisor to SRC, the High Court hears.

Harvinderjit: Were you aware of any proposal to make you a director of SRC International?

Mat Noor: No, I was not. I instead received a letter from the prime minister (Najib) appointing me as SRC International advisor.

Then during re-examination, DPP Suhaimi Ibrahim asks the witness where the letter is, and Mat Noor says that he lost it while he was moving from the ministry to the Export-Import Bank of Malaysia (Exim Bank) during one of his many stints in the financial sector.

5.10pm: Mat Noor Nawi confirms the finance minister is empowered by Section 3 of the Minister of Finance (Incorporation) Act 1957 to make decisions related to companies fully owned by MOF Inc.

Suhaimi refers Mat Noor to the Act’s preamble, which states that it is “an Act to incorporate the minister charged with responsibility for finance.”

The DPP also refers him to Section 3 (1) of the Act, which reads: “The Minister of the time charged with responsibility for finance shall be a body corporate under the name of ‘Minister of Finance’ (hereinafter called “the Corporation”)”.

Suhaimi: From your reading of this document and other instruments in illustration and implementation, who makes decisions?

Mat Noor: The minister of finance (then Najib Abdul Razak).

Suhaimi: (Refers to the Preamble and Section 3 (1) of the Act) So the minister of finance is the Corporation?

Mat Noor: Yes.

Suhaimi: I have no further questions.

Earlier during cross-examination, the defence had tried to assert that then finance minister Najib did not equate to the whole of MoF Inc when it came to making decisions on SRC.

Judge Nazlan then adjourns the trial for the day. It will resume at 9am tomorrow.

Earlier reports:

July 8, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 33

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