Umno leader: RM50,000 cheque from Najib kept off the books

Padang Serai Umno division chief Asmadi Abu Talib at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Complex April 22, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Padang Serai Umno division chief Asmadi Abu Talib at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Complex April 22, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 22 — A RM50,000 cheque that Padang Serai Umno received from former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was not recorded in the division’s accounts, the party division’s leader told the High Court today.

Padang Serai Umno division chief Datuk Asmadi Abu Talib, 50, told the court that he had a meeting in 2015 with Najib at Umno’s office at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC).

Asmadi said he had met Najib as a sign of respect as the latter was then Umno president, as well as to share his division’s plans for the 14th general election.

“Datuk Seri Najib gave me encouragement and he handed over a contribution to help the division in the party’s planning,” Asmadi told deputy public prosecutor Muhammad Saifuddin Hashim Musaimi.

Asmadi said Najib personally gave him a RM50,000 cheque made out to his name, which he then banked in to his Maybank account.

Asmadi is the ninth prosecution witness in Najib’s money laundering and criminal breach of trust trial over RM42 million of former 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) unit SRC International Sdn Bhd.

During cross-examination by Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Asmadi confirmed that the RM50,000 was not “recognised” in Padang Serai Umno’s accounts.

“It’s not recognised in Padang Serai Umno accounts, because if we said it, we will face problems in the annual general meeting, but the funds are known to the Padang Serai division’s committee members,” he said.

Later, when re-examined by Saifuddin, Asmadi confirmed that Padang Serai Umno had an official bank account, and explained why Najib had made out the cheque to Asmadi’s account.

“If it is deposited into the Umno division’s account, it will involve the annual general meeting, but not if it is to my account,” he said.

“If it’s annual general meeting, there needs to be [an] auditor, external auditor,” he added.

He did not specify which annual general meeting he was referring to.

Among other things, Asmadi said the RM50,000 funds from the cheque was used to pay for Padang Serai division’s activities, including for religious activities, after school classes for students, and to assist the sick and victims of natural disasters.

Asmadi is among 15 recipients of cheques totalling over RM10.77 million that were issued under two AmIslamic Bank accounts that were registered under Najib’s name, based on court documents produced in court previously.

Asmadi today also said he had opted for early retirement in 2018 from his job as a teacher to be a candidate for Barisan Nasional in the 14th general elections. He lost in the contest for the Merbau Pulas state seat.

Asmadi said he was appointed to be Padang Serai Umno division chief in 2013, and that he had met Najib several times including at the latter’s residence at 11, Jalan Langgak Duta.

He said he had in the 2015 meeting explained his plans to Najib on helping BN recover the PKR-held area in Padang Serai.

Asmadi said he did not expect Najib to issue him with a cheque in 2015 to assist in the Padang Serai Umno division’s activities, later telling Shafee: “Maybe Datuk Seri PM saw my earnestness, so he decided to help.”

Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex April 22, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex April 22, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

Najib was then still the prime minister and finance minister, and was also then the Umno president and Barisan Nasional chairman.

Asmadi said he did not suggest the RM50,000 sum to Najib, and confirmed that it was Najib himself who wrote the figure down in the 2015 cheque.

Asmadi explained that his party division usually relied on funding from Umno headquarters for its activities, while the division’s committee members would sometimes chip in and with the division treasurer would sometimes use his own funds first.

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