KUALA LUMPUR: Putrajaya could have brought back the RM3.6 billion of SRC International Sdn Bhd’s funds frozen at a bank in Switzerland on a government-to-government basis, the High Court heard today.
However, former prime minister Najib Razak did not have a proper plan to do so.
Najib also admitted he did not allow his former second finance minister, Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah, to meet Swiss authorities as Husni too did not have a plan.
“He did not put a formal application to the Cabinet or had a plan to bring back the money,” he said when cross-examined by ad hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram.
This came about when Sithambaram asked Najib why he had prevented Husni from leading a delegation to Switzerland to resolve the SRC funds that were frozen in bank accounts there.
The money was part of the RM4 billion loan to SRC from the Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP). It was frozen by Swiss authorities on suspicion of being laundered funds.
Questioned further by Sithambaram, Najib, who was also the finance minister then, said he too had no plans to retrieve the money.
Sithambaram: Since SRC was your baby, did you have any plan to bring back the money?
Sithambaram: Could the funds have been brought back on a government-to- government basis?
Sithambaram: I put it to you that you refused to allow Husni to go to Switzerland because you thought the SRC board could resolve it.
Najib: I agree.
Sithambaram: The fact that you stopped Husni from getting the money under a government-to-government initiative was because you never wanted the money back?
Najib: I disagree.
Sithambaram told the court that Najib did nothing from 2013 to 2015 until Husni had asked the prime minister to lead a delegation to resolve the issue.
Najib repeatedly said Husni had not made a formal request or told him of his plans to retrieve the funds.
Sithambaram: If a minister makes a request to go to Switzerland to get the funds back, what plan would you expect?
Najib: I was expecting him to tell me in detail how he was going to do it. He needed to submit a proper plan.
Najib said a proper plan had to be submitted to the Cabinet for approval first before a minister was allowed to go abroad.
Husni, a prosecution witness, had said Najib displayed blatant autocratic leadership in the handling of SRC and 1MDB.
He had said Najib had also left him in the dark about SRC, once a subsidiary of 1MDB, which was formed in 2011.
All government-linked companies under the purview of Finance Ministry Incorporated came under the supervision of Husni then.
Husni said he wanted to meet the Swiss authorities to help unfreeze the money but was advised against it by Najib.
“I was prepared to convince the Swiss authorities that it was KWAP money. However, Najib did not agree to this,” he said.
Najib is accused of abusing his power as prime minister by giving government guarantees on SRC International’s RM4 billion loan from KWAP.
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.