KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd, the entity appointed to undertake all 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes, was a shelf company that was renamed and rebranded following the mandate of 1MDB’s board of directors, the High Court heard today.
Ihsan Perdana director Datuk Dr Shamsul Anwar Sulaiman, the 37th prosecution witness in Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s trial over RM42 million from SRC International Sdn Bhd, said the decision to form a separate entity was made while he was still helming the position as 1MDB’s Executive Director of the CSR division.
“At that time, 1MDB’s CEO Datuk Shahrol Azral had asked me to form a private limited (Sdn Bhd) company to launch the 1MDB CSR projects, under the instructions of Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
He said Shahrol had informed him of the decision following a board meeting, which he was absent from.
Najib at that time held two federal government positions, as the prime minister and finance minister.
“The suggestion to form a Sdn Bhd surfaced when the 1MDB board of directors found there was a conflict of interest, where 1MDB was seen as unsuitable to carry out CSRs which were under their own recommendation,” he said when reading out his witness statement.
Dr Shamsul Anwar explained he was then given the mandate to identify a company that could take over the CSR duties from 1MDB’s board of directors following a board meeting.
“After being given the mandate, I looked for a Sdn Bhd company, a shelf company, with the intentions to carry out 1MDB’s CSR programmes.
“I then contacted a company secretary, Rashidi Md Deris and he recommended a shelf company, which was Gem Horizon Sdn Bhd.
“I was then instructed by the 1MDB board of directors to vacate my position in 1MDB, and form a new entity to carry out 1MDB’s CSR projects,” he read.
Shelf companies are generally known as dormant or aged ready-made companies with little or no business activities.
Such companies, also called blank check companies, are usually sold by accounting or law firms and normally bought to bypass lengthy registration or incorporation processes.
Dr Shamsul Anwar went on to explain how Gem Horizons was seen as an inappropriate name to carry out CSR work by 1MDB’s upper management, with its name then officially changed to Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd on October 24, 2011.
He had in his statement revealed how no employment contract had been signed between him and Ihsan Perdana, despite him being one of only two shareholders in the non-profit oriented company.
It was previously revealed in court that a total of RM42 million from Ihsan Perdana made its way into two personal accounts of Najib between December 2014 and February 2015, in three tranches of RM27 million, RM5 million, and RM10 million.
Former prime minister Najib is currently on trial over seven charges including money laundering and criminal breach of trust over the RM42 million belonging to former 1MDB subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd.
Today marks Day 18 of the trial.
During cross-examination by Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Dr Shamsul Anwar had established his reputation as a humanitarian and for being active in humanitarian efforts as a catalyst that landed him the role handling 1MDB’s CSR work, that warranted a recommendation by Najib himself.
The former general practitioner explained how he was previously attached to Medical Relief Society of Malaysia (Mercy), and was involved in humanitarian work as an onsite doctor during clashes in Kosovo, then part of Yugoslavia, in the late 1990s.
He also detailed how he had flown to Banda Aceh, Indonesia for relief humanitarian work following the devastating ocean earthquake and tsunami at the end in Dec 2004.
Dr Shamsul Anwar also agreed with Shafee that his work with Badan Amal Kebajikan Tenaga Inter Menteri (Bakti) and general involvement within the humanitarian circle had propelled his reputation as someone who could take the job overseeing CSR projects.
*A previous version of this story contained errors which have since been corrected.