I bought expensive watch to placate Rosmah, Najib tells court

Najib Razak says the RM543,530 watch for his wife Rosmah was the only purchase he did for personal purposes.

KUALA LUMPUR: Rosmah Mansor was allowed to pick an expensive watch as her birthday gift to appease her since Najib Razak had to cut short his family holiday in Hawaii to attend to the floods in the East Coast in 2014, the High Court heard today.

Najib said he paid US$130,625 (RM543,530) that was charged to his credit card at Chanel in Honolulu on Dec 22 that year.

“At the time, I was on a vacation with my family but back home, Kelantan and Terengganu had been hit with the worst floods in 70 years,” he said when examined by counsel, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

The former prime minister was asked by Shafee to explain to the court why he had given his wife the luxury watch.

Najib said he was closely following the flood situation and found it necessary to cut short the holiday to return home to visit the victims.

“I explained to my family and they were sad that I had to leave them and return to Malaysia immediately,” he said.

He explained that it was around the time of Rosmah’s birthday. (Rosmah celebrates her 68th birthday today).

“My son Ashman, who worked in Istanbul, had arrived in Honolulu but only to find out that I was not there. Therefore, I made the decision to placate my family and to buy something of my wife’s choice,” he said.

Najib, who is in the witness box after being called to answer seven criminal charges in relation to moving RM42 million of SRC International funds into his bank accounts, is maintaining that it was his prerogative to buy the gift as the “donation” from the Arab Royal family was for him to use at his discretion.

The prosecution’s case is that the money for the watch was part of SRC money.

“That was the only purchase I did for personal purposes. I did not use the card for anything else,” he said.

Najib also took the opportunity to explain that he played golf with then US president Barack Obama to enhance bilateral ties.

“A golf game is long and the president has to stay for five hours on the golf course,” he said, adding that he was then dealing with the “most powerful man” on earth.

Najib said he took a commercial flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles and then to Hong Kong before an RMAF plane flew him home.

“All in all, it took me between 23 and 25 hours to fly to Kota Bahru,” he said, adding that he visited various locations in Kelantan with the menteri besar.

“During one of the stopovers, I was asked to drink soup and came down with a colic illness. I was down for three to four days,” he said.

Najib is accused of abusing his power as prime minister by giving government guarantees on SRC International’s RM4 billion loan from Retirement Fund Inc.

He is also charged with three counts of money laundering and three counts of criminal breach of trust in the transfer of RM42 million to his accounts from the former 1MDB unit.

The hearing before judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali continues.