Najib claimed no vested interest in SRC International during Cabinet meetings, says witness

Kenneth Tee
Former deputy chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Mazidah Abdul Majid arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex June 18, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, June 18 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak declared he had no vested interest in SRC International Sdn Bhd during Cabinet meetings over the granting of government guarantees on the SRC International’s RM4 billion loan applications in August 2011 and February 2012, the High Court heard today.

Former deputy chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Mazidah Abdul Majid testified that Najib had made the declarations to the Cabinet ministers present at that time when he sought their approvals over the granting of government guarantees on the SRC International loan applications.

“According to notes recorded in the minutes of both meetings, Najib did not declare his vested interest in SRC International Sdn Bhd.

“Moreover, not a single Cabinet ministers had asked Najib to leave the Cabinet meeting either during or before the memorandum was being discussed,” she said in her testimony.

She said that both meetings chaired by Najib as prime minister, took place at the Prime Minister’s Office, Putrajaya on August 17, 2011 and February 8, 2012 respectively.

Mazidah also said it has been a practice for Cabinet ministers to declare their interest in any matters debated during Cabinet meetings, with the respective minister required to leave the meeting during discussions.

“Ministers excusing themselves will be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.

“Also recorded in the minutes is when the respective minister rejoins the meeting after the Cabinet has deliberated and decided on the matter,” she said.

According to Mazidah, ministers who have excused themselves from Cabinet meetings included former defence minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein on December 14, 2016 and former youth and sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin on April 26, 2017.

She also cited an occasion when Najib left a Cabinet meeting on November 23, 2012 because the memorandum they were discussing involved CIMB Bank Berhad.

Najib’s younger brother, Datuk Seri Nazir Razak was the bank’s chairman at that time.

“In all my years in Cabinet, the ministers would leave by themselves. Sometimes, other ministers would point out in the meeting that a particular minister had vested interest or the secretariat would inform the minister,” she explained.

Later during cross-examination by Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah on Najib’s “conflicted’ positions within the federal administration and SRC International, Mazidah conceded that the issue was not within the secretariat’s knowledge.

Shafee later pointed out Najib was both finance minister and adviser emeritus of SRC International when the Cabinet approved a government guarantee for RM2 billion loan to the company in 2011.

She then replied that if she had known of Najib’s relationship to SRC International, she would have raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest with the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC).

However, Mazidah stopped short of answering Muhammad Shafee’s question on why the Najib and the two other ministers had excused themselves from the meeting, before asking the court if her response would be in breach of the Official Secrets Act.

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

Mazidah is the 40th prosecution witness of Najib’s ongoing trial involving seven charges of abuse of position, criminal breach of trust and money-laundering over RM42 million of SRC International’s funds.

The trial before High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali resumes with Mazidah’s cross-examination at 9am tomorrow.

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