I was ‘under duress’ preparing Cabinet papers on SRC loan guarantee, says MOF officer

Afidah Azwa Abdul Aziz tells the High Court that she felt uneasy over the manner Cabinet papers on SRC’s loan guarantee were prepared.

KUALA LUMPUR: A finance ministry officer today told the High Court that she had been “under duress” in preparing Cabinet papers on a government guarantee to SRC International Sdn Bhd over its RM2 billion loan.

Afidah Azwa Abdul Aziz, a deputy secretary in the ministry’s Strategic Investment Division, said that she had raised concerns with her superior then, Maliami Hamad, on the manner the Cabinet papers were prepared.

“I felt suspicious when I was told to speed up the memorandum on the second government guarantee for the Cabinet meeting.

“My boss told me that it was orders from the top,” she said when cross examined by lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who is representing Najib Razak in the corruption trial of the former prime minister today.

She said it would normally take her department several weeks to prepare loan guarantee papers as it would involve checking a company’s background.

Shafee had asked Afidah on her witness statement tendered to court, in which she implied that she was not satisfied with procedures by SRC to get a second government guarantee.

Afidah also said she prepared drafts on the internal memo and Cabinet papers after speaking to Maliami.

She said that she sat down with SRC’s CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, company representative Zahid Taib as well as two others at her office, where she typed out what they told her about SRC.

“I have to trust what Nik Faisal told me on that day about the company, and put whatever information he gave in the draft,” Afidah said.

Meanwhile, another witness, former deputy chief secretary Mazidah Abdul Majid, said that if the secretariat had known that Najib received remuneration from SRC as adviser emeritus, he could not be part of Cabinet meetings on SRC due to conflict of interest.

Mazidah previously told the court that Najib had left one of the Cabinet meetings in November 2012, during a discussion on CIMB Bank, a financial institution once led by his brother, Nazir Razak.

Najib 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 (Incorporated) or KWAP.

Another witness, SRC International’s former director Suboh Md Yasin, today told the court that SRC’s board of directors had agreed to apply for a RM2 billion loan from KWAP.

He said that RM2 billion was for SRC to fund their working capital and general investment.