Defence in Najib case postpones move to clarify contradictions in witness evidence

Former SRC International Sdn Bhd chairman Ismee Ismail, the the 39th prosecution witness in Najib Razak’s corruption and abuse of power trial.

KUALA LUMPUR: The much anticipated proceeding to question former SRC International Sdn Bhd chairman Ismee Ismail over alleged contradictions in his witness statement and testimony in Najib Razak’s corruption and abuse of power trial did not materialise as lawyer Harvinderjit Singh said the defence was not pursuing the matter at the moment.

“We will deal with it (the contradictions) in due course,” he told trial judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali at the outset of the 25th day of proceeding today.

Yesterday’s hearing came to an abrupt end when the defence asked for an adjournment to review the evidence of Ismee, the 39th prosecution witness.

Najib’s lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told Nazlan that the defence needed time to hold a discussion among members of the legal team and to obtain instruction from their client.

“We need to study certain documents, some of which were not produced by the prosecution, and we need to go through the transcript of evidence given by the witness,” he said.

Harvinderjit had stopped his cross-examination as well, citing the alleged inconsistencies.

Harvinderjit said Ismee, in his statement, had said that the SRC International board of directors took orders from Najib as he was adviser emeritus of the company.

However, the lawyer said Ismee had testified in court that the board obtained instruction from its shareholder.

Ismee disagreed with the lawyer, saying he told the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission investigators that the board also followed the shareholder resolution.

During today’s proceeding, ad hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram told Nazlan that the prosecution had given a copy of the resolution to the defence before the trial began.

It is mandatory under Section 51A of the Criminal Procedure Code for the prosecution to give all documents that will be used during trial to prove its case against the accused person.

“Perhaps it is appropriate for the defence to cross-examine the witness on the resolution now,” Sithambaram added.

He said he was raising the matter in the interest of justice and to ensure that the trial is not delayed.

Later, he told reporters the copy of the resolution was not shown to Ismee but that this could be done when the prosecution re-examines him next week.

SRC International, a former subsidiary of 1MDB, was fully owned by the Finance Ministry Incorporated during Najib’s time as finance minister.

The prosecution is contending that the resolution revealed that true power in directing and managing the affairs of SRC International lay not with the board of directors, as required by law, but with Najib.

The former prime minister was also chair of the 1MDB board of advisers.

During cross-examination today, Ismee said he saw Najib as his boss as he was “the person wearing many hats”.

Harvinderjit, who took the entire morning cross-examining him, had attempted to show the court that many things in the company happened without Ismee’s knowledge.

Ismee said the board was unaware that relations managers in the Ambank Raja Chulan branch were appointed to manage its accounts.

“I assume there should be one but we (the board) did not make the appointment,” he said.

Ismee also said SRC International CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil did not inform the board that the ownership of the company was placed under the Finance Ministry Incorporated after the government provided a guarantee for a RM2 billion loan from pensioner’s fund KWAP.

Najib, 66, is facing three counts of criminal breach of trust, one charge of abusing his position and three counts of money laundering over SRC International funds amounting to RM42 million.

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

The Pekan MP was charged with committing the offences at AmIslamic Bank Bhd in Jalan Raja Chulan and the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya between Aug 17, 2011, and Feb 10, 2015.