SRC directors visited Swiss bank over its RM1.5 bil, says ex-chairman

Former SRC International chairman Ismee Ismail.

KUALA LUMPUR: SRC International Sdn Bhd’s board of directors went to Switzerland in 2013 to seek confirmation whether the company’s deposit of RM1.5 billion was safe and secure there, the High Court heard in the trial of Najib Razak today.

Ismee Ismail, the former chairman of SRC International, said he personally felt comforted after meeting the BSI bank (now known as EFG International) management in Lugano.

“I did not physically see the money but the president of the bank and senior staff gave an overview of their financial institution,” he said when examined by deputy public prosecutor Ishak Mohd Yusoff.

Ismee said the visit was initiated by the “SRC management” but was unsure whether the trip was approved by shareholders 1MDB.

The money was part of the RM2 billion loaned from pensioners fund Kumpulan Wang Persaraan in 2011 to SRC to make foreign investment, especially in the minerals industry.

Another RM300 million was deposited at Julius Baer bank in Hong Kong while RM200 million was kept locally for SRC’s operational cost.

KWAP had loaned another RM2 billion to SRC in 2012.

Ismee, the 39th prosecution witness, said the board decided to bring back the money just before he resigned as chairman in August 2014.

He said one the reasons he resigned was that the “SRC management” had not filed its audited statement for the year ending March 31, 2013.

He said he came to know about it after a media outlet reported about the matter in 2014.

“We realised then the accounts for 2013 were not audited and sent to the Registrar of Companies,” he said, adding that he took responsibility for the matter.

Questioned by Ishak what he meant by the “SRC management”, Ismee said it was in reference to Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, then managing director and chief executive officer of the company.

He said the board expressed its disappointment as they had been misled and misrepresented.

Ismee said Nik Faisal and company secretary Terence Geh apologised to the board members for the oversight.

Earlier, Ismee told the court that Nik Faisal had met Najib on Sept 7, 2011, where it was decided that RM1.5 billion was deposited in the Swiss bank, RM300 million in Hong Kong and other RM200 million kept locally for SRC’s operational cost.

He said Nik Faisal gave him a copy of the minutes of what was decided on Sept 7, 2011.

“I’m not sure if other directors were given a copy but the decision by Najib and Nik Faisal was minuted in our board meeting on Sept 13, 2011,” he said.

He said he gave his copy to Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission investigating officer Rosli Hussein.

At this juncture, Najib’s lead counsel Muhamamad Shafee Abdullah claimed that the document handed to MACC could be fake as the defence was only supplied with one last month and not much earlier.

Ad-hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram said the court could decide on the evidential weight to be given to that document after the defence had cross-examined Ismee.

He said the document was admissible under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 or the MACC Act.

After hearing submissions, Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali ruled that until the foundation of the document was established it would remain as an exhibit.

This means Rosli has to explain if the document is part of the MACC investigation.

Najib faces six charges of money laundering and criminal breach of trust in the transfer of RM42 million to his account from SRC International.

He is also accused of abusing his power as prime minister by giving government guarantees on SRC International’s RM4 billion loan from Retirement Fund Inc.

The hearing continues.