KUALA LUMPUR, June 23 — Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had the power to make decisions for 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) as he was also in charge of the Finance Ministry portfolio at that time, the High Court heard today.
Former finance minister II Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah also told the court that the 1MDB CEO had taken instructions from Najib back then.
Husni was testifying as the 20th prosecution witness in Najib’s trial over the misappropriation of more than RM2 billion of 1MDB funds.
In questioning Husni, lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram asked the witness to recall a remark by Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah yesterday.
Sri Ram noted that the defence had stated that former 1MDB chairman Tan Sri Mohd Bakke Salleh described former 1MDB CEO Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi as a criminal.
Sri Ram: It was put to you under cross-examination that Tan Sri Bakke had described Shahrol Azral as a criminal. My question to you is this, are you aware from whom Shahrol Azral was taking instructions?
Husni: From Najib Tun Haji Razak.
Sri Ram: By Najib Tun Haji Razak, you mean the accused?
Husni also said that he did not have any decision-making power in relation to 1MDB.
When Sri Ram asked who had the decision-making power for 1MDB to the best of his knowledge, Husni said it was Najib.
Asked if Najib had made it clear to him that he was in control, Husni related how Najib had asked him to stay out of 1MDB affairs in the past.
“Firstly, when I raised the issue of why, you cannot form a company without feasibilities study, he said ‘saya akan teruskan’, I will continue, keep out of your mind lah. That was in early 2009.
“Secondly, late 2009 when the company invested in joint venture between 1MDB and PetroSaudi International, I told him, shouldn’t lah. Firstly, there’s no oil well yet, it’s exploratory stage firstly, and if there’s no petrol, means you will lose investment. Secondly, 1MDB has got no track record in petroleum; thirdly, why not we let Petronas, so I said shouldn’t.
“He said to me, you don’t interfere anymore in 1MDB, shows the power is with him, there’s no discussion, no,” Husni said.
On June 7, Husni said that Najib had in the end of 2009 told him to not get involved and interfere in 1MDB matters, with Husni said he had since then not been involved in any decisions for 1MDB.
Wong and Partners partner Lim Chin Hian, who is a lawyer who had advised 1MDB in the past, testified today as the 32nd prosecution witness.
Khalil Khalid, assistant manager at RHB’s main branch in Kuala Lumpur, testified today as the 33rd prosecution witness.
The prosecution today informed the High Court that apart from the 33 prosecution witnesses who had testified so far, there would be another 20 prosecution witnesses before the prosecution wraps up its case at the prosecution stage.
After all prosecution witnesses have testified, the High Court would then proceed to decide whether Najib as the accused person needs to enter his defence.
In the afternoon when this trial resumed, Deutsche Bank’s former global market operation division associate officer Prakash Gopi Nayagam Gopi testified as the 34th prosecution witness.
Najib’s 1MDB trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah is scheduled to resume on August 15.