Najib was given only limited briefings, defence says in SRC trial

Najib Razak’s lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

KUALA LUMPUR: The defence in Najib Razak’s RM42 million SRC International corruption case told the High Court here today that the former prime minister was only given limited briefings and a general outline of the company’s affairs and initiatives.

Lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, in his opening statement, said Najib’s defence would involve the intended involvement of SRC International in matters relating to key national development areas, as stated under the Economic Planning Unit in the 10th Malaysia Plan and the New Energy Policy.

He said Najib was given limited briefings from the company’s CEO at the time, Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, with a general outline of the affairs and initiatives of SRC International which was represented as having been directed by its board.

The court previously heard that Nik Faisal had left Malaysia two days before the general election last year.

“The correspondence received by Datuk Seri (Najib) from SRC International gave the impression that the contents thereof had been endorsed by the board prior to the same being sent to him for his views or comments.

“The meeting minutes of SRC International and 1MDB are questionable in the circumstances. These documents are not the type of documents he would sign on behalf of Minister of Finance Incorporated (MoF Inc) unless the same was recommended,” Shafee said.

The lawyer also told the court that Najib had no knowledge of or involvement in the RM42 million SRC International funds transferred into his AmBank accounts between December 2014 and February 2015.

“The surrounding circumstances and material events led him (Najib) to believe that Jho Low was a close associate with the royal family of Saudi Arabia, and that the money he received from 2011 to 2014 was in fact donations from King Abdullah in pursuance to assurances he had received from King Abdullah himself,” Shafee said, referring to fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho who is a key figure in the SRC International case.

Low left Malaysia for Singapore on May 29, 2015 through the Subang Airport.

Investigating officer Rosli Hussain previously testified that Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission officers took Low’s statement in Abu Dhabi on Nov 27, 2015 and recorded Nik Faisal’s statement on Oct 17 the same year, but did not place a bond on them.

Shafee also said Najib had issued cheques from his bank accounts for corporate social responsibility purposes to various individuals and organisations between 2011 and 2015.

“For his credit cards, they were spent on gifts to foreign dignitaries and some personal expenses.

“The amount utilised for personal matters was minimal and in any event was done in the belief that the money could be utilised by him as he deemed fit,” he added.

The defence team also said that Najib was misrepresented regarding the transactions and actual balances in his bank accounts from 2013 to 2015, adding that the accounts were “manipulated” by third parties without his knowledge or approval.

“The RM42 million transferred into his account was done without his knowledge or involvement and was not a form of gratification related to him or through SRC International,” Shafee said.

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.

The hearing continues before High Court judge Nazlan Ghazali.

Najib will take the witness stand later where he is expected to read from a 243-page statement.