I was treated like office boy, ex-second finance minister tells Najib trial

Former second finance minister Ahmad Husni Mohamed Hanadzlah (right) at the Kuala Lumpur High Court today.

KUALA LUMPUR: Najib Razak’s corruption and criminal breach of trust trial was told today that the former prime minister displayed blatant autocratic leadership in the handling of 1MDB and SRC International Sdn Bhd.

Former second finance minister Ahmad Husni Mohamed Hanadzlah said he was left in the dark about SRC, once a subsidiary of 1MDB, which was formed in 2011.

Husni, who was in Najib ‘s Cabinet from 2009 to 2016, said he came to know in detail about SRC only in 2013.

“I came to be aware that I am nobody. I was treated like an office boy,” he said when examined by deputy public prosecutor Muhammad Izzat Fauzan.

Husni, the 55th prosecution witness, said he only signed the government guarantee letter for KWAP to obtain the RM2 billion loan in 2011, while the second guarantee for another RM2 billion was done by Najib.

“I believe this decision was done by Najib,” he said, adding that as second finance minister, he was responsible for all companies under Finance Ministry Incorporated but not SRC and 1MDB.

“Najib displayed an autocratic leadership as far as handling of SRC and 1MDB (was concerned),” he said.

He said the Bank Negara governor and representatives of government-linked companies came to meet him regularly but not SRC.

“In fact, SRC CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil came to see me once but without any documents for discussion,” Husni said, adding that he had given a detailed letter to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

Husni said he once went to meet Najib to inquire about SRC, which was given a RM4 billion government guaranteed loan from the pension fund, KWAP.

He said Najib told him the funds were for SRC to strengthen the power generation industry using coal.

He said he told Najib it was best the private sector got involved and not the government.

Husni said he later found out that the RM4 billion was used for coal investments in Java and natural resources investments in Mongolia while part of it was kept in a Swiss bank.

He said he wanted a senior finance ministry official, Mohamad Isa Hussain, to visit Java but this was denied.

Husni said he was informed that SRC’s money in the Swiss bank was frozen as the company was suspected to be involved in money laundering.

“I asked Najib’s permission to bring a delegation to the bank to show SRC did not flout any law but he refused,” he said.

He said his officers reported to him on all companies under Finance Ministry Incorporated with the exception of 1MDB and SRC.

“The setting up of Terengganu Investment Authority in 2009, 1MDB and SRC was not referred to me by my officers,” he said, adding that he was close to Najib as the former prime minister’s father, Abdul Razak Hussein, had adopted him.

Husni, 67, also narrated an incident when he went to meet Najib as there was no feasibility study conducted on the setting up of 1MDB.

“However, he told me that he knew what he was doing,” he said.

He said he met Najib again to express his concerns after learning that 1MDB planned to invest in PetroSaudi International Ltd.

“However, Najib told me that ‘from today onwards’ don’t get involved,” he said, adding that he also sent a letter to Najib in 2010 to warn him of the consequences.

Husni said PetroSaudi was a new and inexperienced player in the oil and gas industry and 1MDB could suffer losses.

He said the oil and gas sector was best left to Petronas.

“I was also worried for him and the government,” he said.

He also said Najib refused to hand over documents when the auditor-general wanted to conduct forensic auditing, but the witness did not specify for which company.

Husni said he wanted to appoint Isa as director of SRC in 2015 as the company had become a Finance Ministry Incorporated entity.

“A government officer will be represented in government-linked companies but not in the case of 1MDB and SRC. However, Najib was not agreeable because Isa was ‘rough’,” he said.

Husni also identified Najib, who was seated in the dock, and remarked that the accused was always smiling.

Najib’s lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, applied to cross-examine Husni on Thursday. He said he needed to take instructions as “dramatic evidence” had surfaced in court and the witness was in an angry mood.

Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali allowed the application.

Najib is facing six charges of money laundering and criminal breach of trust in the transfer of RM42 million to his account from SRC International, a former unit of 1MDB.

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.

He 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.