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Friday, June 29, 2018

Reuters interview 'intentionally misinterpreted', claims Najib


EXCLUSIVE | Najib Abdul Razak has claimed that his recent interview with Reuters was “intentionally misinterpreted” by others to give the impression he was in the dark about 1MDB-related transactions.
In an exclusive interview with Malaysiakini, the former premier said he was aware of 1MDB's transactions, which the board would have vetted before he signed off on them.
However, he claimed that he was not aware of any alleged misuse of funds after 1MDB had paid its joint venture (JV) partners.
Najib also said the 1MDB board would have had to follow and be satisfied with its corporate due diligence processes before its officials asked him to formally sign off on proposed investments or transactions.
“What I meant is I was aware of the major investments and transactions, yes, but once the transactions and investments have taken place, subsequently, I was not aware, because that is the implementation stage, as well as some of the investments, were done overseas.
“That's what I meant. I didn't mean that I didn't know everything. That was not correct.
“What I meant was that after the money was paid by 1MDB to third parties, I was not aware of what happened to the funds as it was beyond my control or knowledge, especially since these third parties and transactions were overseas…," he added.
Following the Reuters article, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad launched a salvo at Najib, who was the chairperson of 1MDB's advisory board, saying the latter's signature was on the related documents.
“If he doesn't know, it must be that he doesn't understand what a signature means,” he had said.
Reuters had quoted Najib as stating that he expected the 1MDB board to tell him if there was anything amiss.
The report said Najib claimed he was unaware that the money in his personal account was from 1MDB, and if it was used to purchase assets such as yachts, paintings, jewellery and properties.
'I am not shirking my responsibilities'
In his interview with Malaysiakini, the former premier also reiterated that he did not pin the blame on 1MDB's board of directors.
“What I said is that everybody has a certain responsibility and the board and the management have fiduciary duties, and I expect them to do their duties.
“As long as they have done their duties as stated by the law, then that is fine. That should be the case.
“And I have my own responsibilities as well, that is what I meant. So whatever has happened has to be seen in this context of the evidence and the responsibility as prescribed by the law,” he added.
Below are excerpts from the interview, which have been edited for brevity, grammar and accuracy:
Malaysiakini: Let's talk about the Reuters interview. In the interview, you said you were not aware of the 1MDB transactions...
Najib: I think I should explain. What I meant is I was aware of the major investments and transactions, yes, but once the transactions and investments have taken place, subsequently, I was not aware, because that is the implementation stage, as well as some of the investments, were done overseas.
That's what I meant. I didn't mean that I didn't know everything. That was not correct.
Malaysiakini: From your explanation, it sounds like you are pinning the blame on the 1MDB directors?
Najib: I didn't blame it on them. What I said is that everybody has a certain responsibility and the board and the management have fiduciary duties, and I expect them to do their duties.
As long as they have done their duties as stated by the law, then that's fine. That should be the case.
And I have my own responsibilities as well, that is what I meant. So whatever has happened has to be seen in this context of the evidence and the responsibility as prescribed by the law.
Malaysiakini: But under the Memorandum and Articles of Association (M&A) of Terengganu Investment Authority (which was later renamed 1MDB), a lot of the decisions have to go through the head of the advisory board. So did a lot of these investments and bond issuances require your permission?
Najib: My role was just as an advisory role and actually the board constituted a number of luminaries, but in essence, you have to go by corporate governance.
Malaysiakini: So there was never an advisory board meet per se?
Najib: They didn't really formally meet. The decisions have got to be in accordance with corporate governance. That's what I maintain.
Malaysiakini: But you still have to sign on...
Najib: When I sign on, it still has to go through the process of due diligence. For example, if there is an investment decision, then the management will have to go through the proper processes for the investment.
Only when it has gone through the process, then whatever is required in terms of a formal signature will be done.
Mind you, on a daily basis, when you run a government, you have so many documents you have to sign. It is impossible to know every single detail, so you have to rely on others.
But I am not shirking my responsibilities, no, but everybody has to play their part in the whole process.
The Najib interview - more on Monday -Mkini

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