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Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Najib ‘kept quiet’ about US$700mil paid to firm with no 1MDB ties, court told


Former second finance minister Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah (left) said he had asked Najib Razak why the money was paid to Good Star (Ltd) and not to PetroSaudi International Ltd, but no action was taken.

KUALA LUMPUR: Former second finance minister Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah told the Najib Razak 1MDB trial that the former prime minister “kept quiet” over a US$700 million transfer to a firm without business links to 1MDB.

Husni said he met Najib several times on 1MDB matters during his time in office, but said Najib “did not do anything” about the matter.

“I asked him (Najib) why the money was paid to Good Star (Ltd) and not directly to PSI (PetroSaudi International Ltd), but no action was taken by him.

“(As the prime minister) he could have called the management to ask them about it. If I had been in his shoes, I would have been shocked and would have taken immediate action,” he said under cross-examination by lawyer Shafee Abdullah.

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The court had previously heard testimony from former 1MDB chairman Bakke Salleh that Najib did not respond to his SMS regarding his concern over 1MDB’s state of affairs. Bakke added that he was unhappy with the US$700 million transfer as the matter was never discussed with him or the other directors.

1MDB had, in 2009, entered into a joint venture with PSI and under the contract terms, it needed to fork out US$1 billion for the venture.

The US$1 billion was supposed to be deposited into the 1MDB-PSI joint venture account, but only US$300 million was moved into the account. It was later revealed that Good Star was controlled by fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low.

Shafee then suggested to Husni that Najib – as chairman of 1MDB’s board of advisers – had no power, and that he and the others on the board merely provided advice to the company’s directors if needed.

“In fact, the board of directors tried to bring the money back,” the lawyer added.

To that, Husni said: “If they (directors) do not do their work, the prime minister can remove them. He has the power.”

Shafee then asked Husni about a letter he had sent Najib in 2010. During Husni’s earlier testimony, he said he had written the letter to voice his concerns regarding 1MDB. Husni told the court that the letter he penned was a personal one, and not in his official capacity as second finance minister.

“My client never got this letter,” the lawyer said.

“It is all right if he never saw it,” Husni said, when pressed by Shafee as to why he did not make sure Najib received and read the letter.

Najib is standing trial on 25 counts of money laundering and abuse of power over alleged 1MDB funds amounting to RM2.28 billion deposited into his AmBank accounts between February 2011 and December 2014.

Deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib told the court that ad-hoc prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram would conduct re-examination of Husni and that they would call another bank officer as their new witness tomorrow.

The hearing continues before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah tomorrow. - FMT

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