Najib, ministers left Cabinet meetings because of conflict of interest, says witness

Former prime minister Najib Razak outside the High Court in Kuala Lumpur.

KUALA LUMPUR: A former government secretary told the High Court that Najib Razak and two former ministers walked out of Cabinet meetings because of conflict of interest.

Mazidah Abdul Majid, who was deputy chief secretary (Cabinet) during Najib’s administration, said the former prime minister left a meeting when the Cabinet wanted to discuss issues on CIMB Bank Bhd on Nov 23, 2012.

Najib’s youngest brother, Nazir, was the bank’s chairman during that time. Nazir left CIMB on Dec 31, 2018, after serving the bank for 29 years.

“Two other ministers who left the Cabinet meetings were former youth and sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin and former defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein,” she said at Najib’s SRC International court hearing.

Khairy walked out of a meeting on April 26, 2017, while Hishammuddin left a meeting on Dec 14, 2016.

Mazidah said it was a practice by ministers or members of the administration to leave a meeting if they had an interest in the topics discussed.

“If my memory serves me right, the government amended the code of ethics in 1997.

“Anyone who has conflict of interest has to leave and it will be recorded,” she said, responding to deputy public prosecutor Izzat Fauzan’s question on whether ministers have to declare their interests on issues to be tabled.

Asked by Najib’s lawyer, Shafee Abdullah, on the reasons Khairy left the meeting, Mazidah said she could not recall exactly why.

Shafee: Would it be about ECM Libra?

Mazidah: I would not know if this (disclosing minutes of a Cabinet meeting) would breach the OSA.

It was reported that Khairy was a former director of ECM Libra Avenue Sdn Bhd and had sold his shares in the company in 2006.

Fiat prosecutor V Sithambaran told the court the prosecution team will obtain and declassify the minutes of Cabinet meetings for the hearing.

Shafee then said he will continue to cross-examine Mazidah tomorrow after his defence team has obtained the declassified minutes.

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 Retirement Fund Inc.

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

The hearing before High Court judge Nazlan Ghazali continues.