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SRC trial: Ex-minister labels Najib’s conduct in government as “autocratic”

August 7, 2019

* Najib refused to send govt-led delegation to Switzerland over alleged freezing of SRC funds in 2013, says ex-minister
* Hong Kong riots reveal a looming crisis at the world’s 6th largest bank  

Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court August 6, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 6 — A former Cabinet minister today described Datuk Seri Najib Razak as an autocratic leader who made unanimous decisions during the time he held the position as finance minister.

Former second minister of finance Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah also told the High Court today how he felt sidelined to the level of an errand boy, as he was only required to pen his signature in documents concerning the formation of SRC International Sdn Bhd without his input being sought as a minister.

“When I signed, I was aware that I was nothing.

“The first loan of RM2 billion signed by Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, why not get the second RM2 billion to be signed by him, that’s what I said.

“I then realised I was just an office boy, as decisions had been made, not discussed with me, and just came to me,” he said.

During the course of the trial, witnesses have testified that Retirement Fund (Incorporated) granted a total of RM4 billion in loans in August 2011 and March 2012 to SRC International, with money allegedly flowing through other companies before being transferred into Najib’s accounts.

Ahmad Husni today explained how his role as second finance minister had not differed much as compared to that of Najib’s, saying he was usually tasked to overlook the operations and supervise the management of companies under Minister of Finance (Incorporated) (MoF Inc).

Ahmad Husni, currently unemployed, was appointed the second finance minister in 2009 and resigned from the position in June 2016, when Najib was both prime minister and finance minister.

However, he explained to Deputy Public Prosecutor Muhammad Izzad Fauzan during Najib’s RM42million SRC International trial, that Najib had excluded him from affairs surrounding the formation of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), and by default its wholly-owned subsidiary, SRC International.

“As for 1MDB, its formation itself was not referred to me and I only knew from my officers that Datuk Seri Najib wanted to form the 1MDB,” he said.

Muhammad Izzad: As for 1MDB and SRC, you were told to stay away?

Ahmad Husni: I was told not to interfere.

Upon being left out of SRC International’s formation, Ahmad Husni explained to the court how he took it upon himself to address Najib by penning a personal letter expressing his worries of feasibility concerning the projections of SRC International’s foreign investments.

“I said (to Najib) it (SRC International) there has to be more studies done to weigh industry risks and to make a financial projection of up to 10 to  20 years to make sure it stays profitable, and then only to go forth with the project.

“But Datuk Seri Najib replied me saying, ‘I know what I am doing, I will go ahead’, he said.

Ahmad Husni said he had also pointed out to Najib, who wanted SRC International to invest in the coal industry, that such minerals would be better left to the private sector to manage and handle.

“But he (Najib) said ‘I am more confident with the government’.

“That was when I realised there were autocratic elements in his leadership; as I only received instructions from when SRC was formed, concerning their business plans and direction and objectives.

“We only received instructions and that was how I saw it,” he testified.

Ahmad Husni also elaborated on how he was again sidelined by Najib when he approached the former prime minister concerning SRC International’s investment with PetroSaudi International in the United Arab Emirates.

Ahmad Husni said he had highlighted the possible risks of PetroSaudi failing to identify a potential oil well, the effect of which would see their investments go up in smoke, and had recommended local oil and gas company Petronas handle the investment, considering their knowledge in the industry.

“I said (to Najib) that even the staff of 1MDB have no experience in oil and gas; I said, ‘why don’t we ask Petronas to invest in PetroSaudi, because they are in oil and gas’.

“But he (Najib) said, ‘Husni, from today onwards you don’t get involved, I don’t want you to interfere in 1MDB’, that was what he said,” Ahmad Husni testified in court today.

The former cabinet minister also told the court how SRC International’s chief executive Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil was not forthcoming with the ministry regarding information and relevant documents pertaining to SRC International’s formation.

“I never got documents, I never saw the officers; I called the CEO… the CEO also did not want to come, even the governor of Bank Negara Malaysia came to my office, that person is in a bigger position than the CEO of SRC.

Najib is currently on trial for seven charges of alleged abuse of position, money-laundering and criminal breach of trust over RM42 million of funds from SRC International, a former subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

At the time of the first loan application, SRC International was the wholly-owned subsidiary of 1MDB which was owned by MoF’s Minister of Finance Inc (MoF Inc); while SRC International was parked directly under MoF Inc by the time of the second loan application.

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