SRC trial: Witnesses describe RM4b loans as among biggest by KWAP

Former vice president of the Retirement Fund Incorporated’s Investment Support Services Department, Amirah Muhammad Nor, at the Duta Court in Kuala Lumpur May 9, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Former vice president of the Retirement Fund Incorporated’s Investment Support Services Department, Amirah Muhammad Nor, at the Duta Court in Kuala Lumpur May 9, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, May 9 — The Retirement Fund Incorporated’s (KWAP) two loans totalling RM4 billion to SRC International Sdn Bhd were among the largest approved by the civil service pension fund, said two witnesses responsible for the approval of the payment vouchers.

The prosecution’s 34th witness, former KWAP Investment Settlement Department (ISD) vice president Amirah Muhammad Nor, told the High Court today that she had approved two payment vouchers of RM1 billion each after KWAP received a Form of Utilization Notice from SRC International in March 2012 for the second RM2 billion loan.

“Throughout my experience working in KWAP, both loans to SRC totalling RM4 billion were one of the biggest approved by KWAP,” she said in her witness statement.

Amirah had started working at KWAP in 2007 before reaching the mandatory retirement age in November 2018.

However, she also said she did not approve the payment vouchers when the first batch of RM2 billion loan was given to SRC International in 2011 as she had taken a leave of absence at the time.

She added that the authority to approve these had then delegated to the director of the Accounts and Management Services Department under her purview.

According to Amirah, the payment vouchers in 2012 were prepared by her staff and subsequently approved after she signed off on them.

Earlier, the prosecution’s 33rd witness, former KWAP Accounts and Management Services Department (AMSD) director R. Ambalagam, echoed a similar sentiment in his testimony.

Responding to Najib’s lawyer, Harvinderjit Singh, Ambalagam replied in the affirmative when asked if the RM4 billion loan was among the biggest loan amount issued by KWAP.

Ambalagam explained that as director of the AMSD, he had limited authority from KWAP’s chief executive to approve payment vouchers and alternatively given the power to assist in the confirmation of payment vouchers for the ISD.

Former director of the Retirement Fund Incorporated’s Accounts and Management Services Department, R. Ambalagam, at the Duta Court in Kuala Lumpur May 9, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Former director of the Retirement Fund Incorporated’s Accounts and Management Services Department, R. Ambalagam, at the Duta Court in Kuala Lumpur May 9, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

He also confirmed that he was the one who signed off on the disbursement of the first RM2 billion loan to SRC International in August 2011 following Aminah’s absence, but was not involved in the preparation of the loan.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s lawyer Harvinderjit Singh then highlighted Amirah’s statement stating the loan provided to SRC International was amongst the largest she has seen, remarking that he was ‘amazed’ at the particular paragraph in her witness statement.

Harvinderjit pointed out that the statement was completely identical with a similar paragraph which appeared in another witness’ statement presented in court.

“When you recorded this (statement), you dictate and it was typed? Was Ambalagam with you?” he asked.

Amirah replied that the words were her own and she intended to make the statement which she conveyed to Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers when her statement was being recorded.

“I wanted to put this because this is not the first time KWAP gave a big amount... there are other similar cases (loans),” she said, noting all of the other paragraphs in her statement were her own words.

However, she conceded that the phrasing of the paragraph on the size of the loans did not come from her but MACC officers.

Today marks the 16th day of the former prime minister’s trial on seven charges of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money-laundering RM42 million funds belonging to SRC International.