KUALA LUMPUR: Ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram told the High Court here today that former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak should have stepped down from his post as finance minister then to take responsibility over developments concerning the Minister of Finance Incorporated-owned SRC International Sdn Bhd.
Citing the Westminster model of governance, he said the finance minister in charge would have resigned if problems like the one surrounding SRC occurred.
Sithambaram : If something like this happened in the Westminster model of government, the finance minister would have resigned. Do you agree?
Najib: I disagree. I reserve my comment for later. Actually, I had a lot to say … there were many examples that I could give.
Sithambaram: It’s okay sir. This is my case. Please don’t make a political speech
Najib: You are the one suggesting it. So if an aeroplane goes missing, the minister of transport must resign. Ridiculous.
Sithambaram: Datuk Seri, I’m suggesting to you that you should take responsibility in this case.
The heated argument between the former prime minister and Sithambaram over the matter stopped after Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, who is presiding over the case, told them to move on to the next question.
Najib, 67, was making his defence on seven charges of misappropriating RM42 mil in SRC International funds, comprising three counts of criminal breach of trust, three counts of money laundering and one count of abuse of position in relation to the SRC funds.
To another question, Najib said he was not aware that SRC was not making any investment.
Sithambaram: Why didn’t you step in. It involved pensioners’ money. How could you not have known?
Najib: There is a system of reporting, I did not know at that time.
Sithambaram: But you kept quiet for seven years; the alarm bells were ringing but you did nothing. Do you agree or disagree?
Najib replied: “No, I disagree.”
When Sithambaram suggested that there was no investments made by SRC, Najib said he only knew about it today.
Sithambaram: You agree that until you left office, nothing was done to justify the loan from the Retirement Fund (Incorporated) (KWAP).
Najib: The loans were granted on the basis that SRC was going to make investments.
During previous proceedings, the court was told that KWAP had granted loans amounting to RM4 bil to SRC following Najib’s involvement.
Earlier, the court was told that despite being “shocked” at receiving RM42 mil from SRC International Sdn Bhd into his personal bank accounts in September 2014 and February 2015, Najib did not return any of the money.
He told the court he did not return the money because he wanted to see the outcome of the then ongoing investigation by the authorities.
He, however, disagreed with a suggestion by Sithambaram that he treated the RM42 mil as though it was his.
During the prosecution stage of the trial last year, Datuk Dr Shamsul Anwar Sulaiman, managing director of Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd, the entity appointed to undertake all 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes, testified that Najib was “shocked” when he was informed that RM42 mil had gone into his accounts.
Sithambaram: You expressed shock when you found out the money was in your accounts. If you know the money was in your accounts, you should have returned it.
Najib: It was under investigation. Subject to investigation.
Sithambaram: Upon learning (about the money), shouldn’t you have returned it Even if the investigation was going on, you could have returned it.
Najib: I wanted to see the outcome of the investigation.
Sithambaram: It is not about the investigation but about the amount of money that went into your accounts. Do you still want to wait for the outcome?
Earlier, Sithambaram read out Najib’s affidavit in his civil suit against former transport minister Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik who had alleged that the Pekan MP had misappropriated money.
Sithambaram also read out Ling’s affidavit which cited Najib’s sworn affidavit responding to the allegation that he (Najib) had admitted to receiving SRC International funds into his accounts.
Najib, however, maintained that he did not know that the RM42 mil at that time was SRC money.
Sithambaram: You didn’t know that this money entered your accounts through two intermediaries?
Najib: No, I didn’t know it was SRC money at all.
Najib also disagreed with Sithambaram’s suggestion that he was responsible for the RM9.3 bil debt incurred by the government over the 1MDB scandal.
The former prime minister also told the court he was surprised when he got to know of SRC International’s decision to send billions of ringgit abroad for investment, but said that he did not conduct any inquiry against the board regarding the matter.
Sithambaram: When you were told huge investments were taking place overseas, did you express shock that the Minister of Finance Incorporated, as the single shareholder, was not informed of these transactions which involved SRC capital?
Najib: Of course, I was surprised.
Sithambaram: It’s good to be surprised. If you were surprised, you would inquire from the board how they sent a substantial sum overseas. Did you inquire?
Najib: No, I did not inquire.
Najib disagreed with a suggestion that he didn’t inquire because all the minutes of the shareholders’ meetings referred to him were indeed signed by him and handed to the board.
Sithambaram suggested that Najib knew exactly what SRC International was doing, but the former premier maintained that he had left things to the company’s management.
“I only took an interest in what was brought to my attention,” said Najib.
Najib also told the court that he did not make a police report over what he claimed were his forged signatures in the minutes of the SRC International Sdn Bhd shareholders’ meeting.
He, however, said he did raise this matter with his lawyers.
He said this when asked by Sithambaram whether he had lodged any police report on his claim that his signatures in the minutes were forged.
Sithambaram: Did you inform your lawyers that the documents (which Najib claimed bore his forged signatures) should not have existed
Najib: We discussed that, yes.
Sithambaram: Since the documents do not exist, did you lodge a police report?
Najib: No, as the trial is ongoing.
Earlier, Najib claimed that the documents could have been forged as he was not shown any SRC International minutes of meeting to sign.
Asked when he had appointed an expert to examine the authenticity of his purported signatures on the documents, Najib said he could not remember the exact time.
At this stage, Judge Mohd Nazlan interjected by asking Najib the same question (on the appointment of the expert): “Was this during the prosecution case?”
Najib replied: “Yes.” – Jan 7, 2020 Bernama