Rosmah asked me about advance payment to Jepak, says ex-ministry sec-gen

Rosmah Mansor, the wife of former prime minister Najib Razak.

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court in Rosmah Mansor’s corruption trial heard today that she had once asked the education ministry secretary-general at the time about an advance payment to Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd, the company awarded the RM1.25 billion solar hybrid project in Sarawak.

Alias Ahmad, who was the secretary-general from September 2016 to May 2018, said Rosmah had asked him about the matter after they attended a Permata meeting.

Alias, the 12th prosecution witness, said he met Rosmah, the founder of the organisation, as he was a member of the Yayasan Permata board of trustees.

“I do not know the exact date of the meeting, but I am sure the event took place when the issue of the advance payment was raised, and before the contract with Jepak was signed,” he said in his witness statement.

Alias said Rosmah had asked him when the payment could be made as the company “could not move” until the money was released.

“I told her there was some issue relating to insurance relayed by Jepak which was not approved by the finance ministry.

“Without the ministry’s go-ahead, payment could not be made as it would be in breach of government procurement process,” he added.

He also said Rosmah had asked him to expedite the signing of the contract so that progress payments could be made to Jepak.

“I told her that Jepak was unable to prepare the draft contract for the education ministry’s scrutiny,” he said.

He added that he took Rosmah’s query seriously as it had come from the prime minister’s wife.

“So I directed my ministry officials to find ways to solve Jepak’s problem relating to the advance and progress payments, and in preparing the contract documents.”

The contract was signed on June 20, 2017.

Alias said Rosmah’s aide, Rizal Mansor, had also called him to enquire about the project.

“I explained it to him since I believed he was calling me on behalf of Rosmah,” he said.

Rosmah is alleged to have solicited RM187.5 million from Jepak managing director and majority shareholder Saidi Abang Samsudin as an inducement to help the company secure the solar hybrid project for 369 schools in Sarawak.

She is also accused of receiving bribes amounting to RM6.5 million from Saidi between 2016 and 2017.

On Feb 5, ad hoc prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram in his opening statement said Rosmah had been able to solicit and receive bribes from Jepak as she could influence the decisions of the government, led at the time by Najib Razak.

He also said she wielded considerable influence despite occupying no official government position due to her overbearing nature.

The hearing continues before judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan.