SRC trial: Najib admits to keeping Nik Faisal as account handler, director despite dodgy financial management

Kenneth Tee
Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court January 22, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 22 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak conceded in his testimony today that he had kept former SRC International Sdn Bhd chief executive Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil as his personal bank accounts’ mandate holder despite the latter’s questionable track record in managing the firm’s finances.

Najib, who is on trial for misappropriating RM42 million from SRC International and testifying in his own defence under cross-examination from ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram, explained that he maintained Nik Faisal “for a while” as mandate holder up until his bank accounts were closed in 2015.

Nik Faisal was SRC International’s chief executive when RM3.6 billion of its RM4 billion loan from the Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP) was frozen by authorities in Switzerland over alleged money laundering in 2013.

Najib also told the court he maintained Nik Faisal as an SRC International director, despite removing him from the chief executive post over financial mismanagement, in order to repatriate SRC funds frozen by the Switzerland’s authorities as he wanted “continuity”.

Sithambaram: Despite Nik Faisal’s misconduct in financial fiduciary matters, you didn’t remove him from the board?

Najib: I removed him as CEO, yes.

Sithambaram: It was your judgement that a director with financial misconduct could sit on the board?

Najib: I wanted some continuity.

Deputy Public Prosecutor, Datuk V. Sithambaram, arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex January 7, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

Sithambaram then suggested to Najib that Nik Faisal was both his account mandate holder and his man in the company to carry out his bidding, to which Najib disagreed.

Sithambaram: You said one of the reasons to maintain Nik Faisal on the board of directors, he was tasked to bring back funds from Switzerland?

Najib: Yes.

Sithambaram: Who informed you that they (the board) required him for the task to collect funds?

Najib: I cannot recollect.

Sithambaram: You knew (SRC board chairman) Tan Sri Ismee Ismail was against him.

Najib: I was not told.

Sithambaram: He told Azlin (Najib’s principle private secretary) who told you.

Najib: It was not related to me.

Sithambaram: Yet you maintained him (Nik Faisal).

Najib: I wanted to maintain him for awhile to bring the money back.

Sithambaram then described Nik Faisal as a “crook” who was Najib’s confidant tasked to ensure SRC International’s funds in Switzerland were never repatriated back.

Najib also disagreed with this.

Najib has been called to enter his defence to answer seven charges related to SRC International.

Three are for criminal breach of trust over a total RM42 million of SRC International funds while entrusted with its control as the prime minister and finance minister then, three more are for laundering the RM42 million, and the last is for abusing the same positions for self-gratification of the same sum.

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