KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — It’s Day 18 of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s criminal trial today, but what if you have not kept track of all the goings-on in court or are just simply overwhelmed by all the shocking revelations?
We at Malay Mail think you will find this condensed summary useful. Here are some quick facts before we dive into the details of what has taken place so far.
Najib, 66, was prime minister of Malaysia from April 2009 to May 2018, and finance minister from September 2008 to May 2018.
He was charged with abusing the two positions to obtain RM42 million for his gratification by being involved in the government’s decision to issue a federal guarantee for the Retirement Fund Incorporated’s (KWAP) RM4 billion loan to SRC International Sdn Bhd.
He was also charged with criminal breach of trust and money-laundering over RM42 million of SRC International funds.
The company was initially owned by controversial state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) before it was put under the sole ownership of the Finance Ministry’s Minister of Finance (MoF) Inc.
The trial started on April 3 with the Attorney General Tommy Thomas outlining what the prosecution aimed to prove; 35 witnesses have already testified so far while 35 volumes totalling around 7,000 pages of documents have been presented by the prosecution to Najib’s lawyers.
Now that you are primed, get ready to jump into this simplified recap and highlights of what the prosecution witnesses (PW) and multiple documents have revealed in the past 17 days of trial:
1. Before SRC International was born
The 28th prosecution witness (PW28) Datuk Kamariah Noruddin, former deputy director general (Macro) of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) in the Prime Minister’s Office, revealed that 1MDB had via Najib applied for a RM3 billion federal grant for SRC International to secure energy supplies.
However, Kamariah described 1MDB’s August 2010 application for RM3 billion as challenging for the EPU to process as it came directly from the prime minister instead of the usual route of other Cabinet members; also, SRC International was not even set up yet then.
The EPU finally approved in October 2010 only RM20 million to establish SRC International, which was then formed on January 7, 2011. (More info on SRC International can be found here in this Malay Mail story.)
2. How RM4 billion entered SRC International
As a newly-formed company, SRC International approached KWAP in June 2011 for a RM3.95 billion loan with 1MDB as the guarantor. (This was via a letter addressed to PM Najib and which allegedly contained his handwritten note of approval to the proposal to borrow from KWAP).
PW29 Amirul Imran Ahmat, who was the KWAP officer tasked with drafting proposals for loans sought by SRC International, hinted at what he believed to be the reluctance of the pension fund to lend money to the company.
Amirul initially drafted in 2011 a proposal for a RM1 billion loan instead, amid the absence of multiple supporting documents, but the KWAP investment panel on July 5, 2011 deferred its decision until more information was available.
Amirul then had to prepare a proposal for a RM2 billion loan to SRC International, which was discussed at the KWAP investment panel meeting on July 19, 2011 in which the KWAP CEO disclosed that Najib had asked to speed up the loan approval.
The KWAP investment panel had raised multiple concerns over the issuing of a RM2 billion loan to SRC International that only had RM2 in paid-up capital and the overconcentration of risk in one company.
SRC International finally got its first RM2 billion from KWAP in August 2011 after securing a government guarantee for the loan. (This first loan was for the purpose of SRC International’s working capital and general investments).
SRC International received another RM2 billion in March 2012 from KWAP, within about two weeks of applying for the second loan that was also backed by a government guarantee letter signed by Najib. (This second loan was for the purpose of SRC International’s working capital and investments linked to natural resources.)
3. What did SRC International do with its funds?
According to bank officers who have testified, a total of RM85 million flowed out from SRC International’s AmIslamic Bank account-650 (where the second RM2 billion loan was transferred from KWAP) a few years later to SRC International’s subsidiary Gandingan Mentari Sdn Bhd’s AmIslamic Bank account.
Bank documents also showed Gandingan Mentari transferred a total of RM50 million to SRC International’s purported corporate social responsibility partner Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd’s Affin Bank account.
4. How money in Najib’s accounts was spent
Najib’s two earlier accounts at AmIslamic Bank were closed on August 2013 with a total remaining balance of over RM12 million, and replaced with three accounts at AmIslamic Bank that were all opened on July 2013.
The three new Najib accounts were all specially indicated with AmPrivate Banking-1MY, AmPrivate Banking-MY, AmPrivate Banking Y-1MY as the primary name and with Najib’s name as the secondary name of the account holder, AmBank Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager R. Uma Devi said.
These three Najib accounts had account numbers, but it appears that such information may not necessarily show up in all banking documents at other banks on transactions involving these accounts.
AmPrivate Banking-1MY is 2112022011-880, AmPrivate Banking-MY is 2112022011-906, AmPrivate Banking-Y1MY is 2112022011-898. (The two accounts ending -880 and -906 were singled out by the attorney general on the first day of trial as part of the money flows the prosecution will prove.)
During the trial, Maybank KL branch manager Halijah Abdul Wahab verified three transactions between the Maybank accounts of Putra Perdana Construction Sdn Bhd (PPCSB), Permai Binaraya Sdn Bhd and the AmBank accounts as part of a larger web of transactions involving multiple accounts and more companies.
Two of these also did not bear any account numbers and it took another witness, Maybank Treasury Settlement section head Noorlina Mahmud, to verify via other banking documents that a RM5 million transfer to PPCSB’s Maybank account came from “AmPrivate Banking-MY.”
Just based on the testimony of R. Uma Devi alone — the manager of the AmBank branch were Najib’s accounts were opened and active — a dizzying pattern of funds movement in his accounts can be seen.
Curiously, over RM3 million was channelled from one of Najib’s accounts to two credit cards — although it has not been disclosed in court to whom the cards belong or their purpose.
(For more details of what Uma Devi’s testimony revealed, read Malay Mail’s previous story of the spider web of money transfers in the Najib accounts.)
Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) later raided the AmBank Group building in July 2015, with the central bank’s manager Ahmad Farhan Sharifuddin confirming that AmBank was also fined in November 2015 for failing to report multiple suspicious transactions in six Najib accounts — four current accounts, two credit card accounts.
5. Then there were cheques
One of Najib’s accounts (-906) was used to issue 14 cheques worth over RM7.2 million between January 30 and February 26, 2015, for purposes such as funding for Barisan Nasional political parties, the promotion of Najib’s 1Malaysia campaign, monitoring the local Chinese community’s sentiments, a welfare home and for expenses such as water tanks.
There was a separate cheque of RM3.5 million from another Najib account (-898) that was given to a law firm on January 21, 2015. The purpose of this cheque has not been mentioned so far.
Altogether, the cheques from Najib’s accounts mentioned so far in the trial come up to RM10,776,514 or over RM10.77 million.
The three Najib accounts were closed in March 2015 (less than three years after their opening) with a combined balance of just over RM100,000 that was then sent to Ihsan Perdana.
6. Wage prospects for the politically ambitious?
During the trial, witnesses also testified to how much Najib took home as an MP and prime minister.
As an MP, Najib received a monthly income of RM10,355.18 (excluding special payments) from 2011 to 2014, which increased to RM19,846.59 from 2015 to 2018, a witness testified.
Another witness testified that Najib took home RM48,681.65 monthly as deputy prime minister from January to April 2009, and a total monthly income of RM58,605.15 as prime minister from May 2009 until April 2018, and then a pro-rated salary for May 1 to May 9, 2018 including allowances of RM6,627.09.
Najib received a total of RM1,017,014.39 in May 2018 from the Prime Minister’s Office, with the amount including the pro-rated sum and a special RM1 million payment. Also, he further received two special payments of RM22,826.65 and RM11,413.30 in December 2011 and January 2013.
Other memorable incidents that took place during the trial period include witnesses hailing Najib as “Bossku”, his former aide’s unauthorised leak of selected excerpts of the court’s recording of trial proceedings, his lawyer reading the Billion Dollar Whale book out loud in court and Najib denying taking a selfie during court proceedings.
Today, KWAP Legal and Secretarial Department vice president Azlida Mazni Arshad, is expected to continue testifying as the 35th prosecution witness.
The trial before High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali is expected to go on until at least July 3, but may be extended if necessary.
The trial now is at the prosecution stage in which the prosecution must prove that there is a prima facie case for Najib to answer. If the prosecution succeeds, Najib will be ordered to enter his defence and be able to call his own witnesses.
Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah has effectively announced his client’s defence would be that he is an alleged victim in a purported “conspiracy” by fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho.
Najib also has trial dates scheduled up to April next year for his other criminal cases, which will all be heard in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur.
Najib has to be personally present during each of the trials, so the cases cannot be heard on the same days.