KUALA LUMPUR: Former foreign minister Anifah Aman had assured Najib Razak that it was alright to deposit an “Arab donation” from Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah into personal bank accounts, he told the High Court in the former leader’s SRC International trial.
Anifah said that it has been a common practice in Umno for party presidents to personally take charge of political funds.
Najib was the Umno president from 2009 to 2018, during which Anifah was the foreign minister.
“I assured him that it does not matter since the donation was to be used for CSR and political purposes.
“Putting the money in the personal account of the prime minister would bring about easier controls,” said Anifah.
Anifah said a meeting took place in Riyadh in January 2010, between the Malaysian delegation headed by Najib, and the late King Abdullah at the latter’s palace.
Others in the meeting were then Malaysian ambassador Syed Omar Al-Saggaf and minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom, said Anifah.
He said that King Abdullah, on the last day of the Malaysian delegation’s visit, had conferred Saudi Arabia’s highest award on Najib.
“After the award ceremony, Datuk Seri observed and admired the paintings of Arabian stallions in the palace and he commented on the beauty of the horses.
“King Abdullah took heed of the comment and offered him one of the stallions but Datuk Seri politely declined the offer because he (Najib) does not ride horses,” said Anifah in his witness statement.
Questioned by prosecutor V Sithambaram on whether he knew the meeting with the monarch was arranged by businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, Anifah said he was not aware of it.
“I’m not sure until today if he was close to the royal family and I never met Jho Low,” he added.
To another suggestion that the “Arab donation” was to enhance Najib’s image among voters, Anifah agreed.
He maintained that the money was a “personal donation” to Najib, despite being pressed by Sithambaram several times on whether a country’s leader can accept gifts from foreign leaders in a personal capacity.
Sithambaram: I assumed this was not discussed in the Dewan Rakyat, to ensure survival?
Anifah: I disagree with your statement that said it was “to ensure survival”.
Sithambaram then asked whether it was proper to use the purported donation to buy a watch that cost “almost half a million” for a spouse.
Anifah replied that he was shocked by the lawyer’s question.
“Of course not,” he added.
Najib previously testified that he bought a Chanel watch for RM543,530 to appease his wife Rosmah Mansor, after their family vacation in December 2014 was cut short, at the height of the floods that ravaged the east coast.
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.
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.
The hearing continues before High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.