Nothing wrong playing golf with businessman, ex-ministry official tells court

Rosmah Mansor faces three counts of soliciting RM187.5 million over the Sarawak schools’ solar project and of receiving a RM6.5 million bribe.

KUALA LUMPUR: A former education ministry official told the High Court in Rosmah Mansor’s corruption trial that there was nothing wrong with him playing golf with a Sarawakian businessman involved in the government’s solar supply project.

Alias Ahmad, who was the ministry’s secretary-general from September 2016 to May 2018, said their social meetings only took place after the ministry signed the RM1.25 billion contract with Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd managing director Saidi Abang Samsudin.

Besides golf, Alias said, Saidi also attended his daughter’s wedding.

“The government’s policy does not allow us to have engagement with the project contractor before the contract is signed.

“After the contract was signed, Jepak was considered as the government’s partner,” he said when questioned by deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib.

Alias said he and Saidi met for golf at Tropicana Golf Club in Petaling Jaya. “I chose the place because I am a member there. I don’t have to pay and he didn’t pay for me, too,” he said.

Earlier, Rosmah’s lawyer Akberdin Abdul Kader asked Alias about Saidi’s presence at his daughter’s wedding. The lawyer also showed him two pictures taken that day.

“Saidi came uninvited. I only invited the minister (Mahdzir Khalid),” Alias said, despite being challenged by Akberdin that he invited Saidi.

Alias also said the ministry did not lodge any report with the authorities after it discovered that Jepak Holdings had allegedly tampered with the solar project contract.

He said the ministry’s legal adviser came out with three options at a meeting on March 14, 2018 – to call a domestic inquiry into the alleged tampering, to make amendments to the contract, or to lodge a police report.

“I was told none of these options was taken even after I retired. MACC also took some files from the office,” Alias said, referring to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Akberdin asked Alias whether he played a part in stopping his officers from lodging a police report, claiming that he and Mahdzir were “accomplices” in the solar project.

“I do not agree. This is a serious allegation against me,” Alias said.

Another witness, CIMB Bintulu Sentral branch manager Wong Ping, told the court that Jepak Holdings had two accounts with the bank.

She said Saidi withdrew RM6 million from one of the accounts on Dec 20, 2016 and deposited the sum into his Maybank account.

“However, we do not have details on why the transfer was made,” she said.

Wong also said Jepak Holdings received more than RM64 million from the education ministry on Aug 4, 2017.

She said that on Aug 10, a sum of RM10 million was transferred to another account belonging to Saidi.

MACC assistant investigating officer Muhammad Na’im Mahmod told the court he and his colleagues went to Rosmah’s house at Langgak Duta on Nov 2, 2018 with Saidi and two other witnesses, Rayyan Radzwill Abdullah and Shamsul Rizal Sharbini.

“My colleague Rekhraj Singh instructed me to prepare the house layout where Shamsul had put two backpacks with cash.

“He also told me to prepare the layout of the living room where Saidi, Rayyan and Rosmah met,” he said.

Rosmah faces three counts of soliciting RM187.5 million from Saidi as an inducement to help the company secure the Hybrid Photovoltaic Solar System Integrated Project and Maintenance and Operation of Genset/Diesel for 369 rural schools in Sarawak, worth a total of RM1.25 billion, through direct negotiation with the education ministry.

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

The hearing before High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan continues tomorrow, with Saidi expected to take the witness stand.

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