SRC trial: Ex-KWAP chief says influence from Najib's handwritten note undeniable

Ex-KWAP CEO Datuk Nor Azian Mohd Noh is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex June 10, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Ex-KWAP CEO Datuk Nor Azian Mohd Noh is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex June 10, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, June 10 — Former Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP) chief executive Datuk Azian Mohd Noh said she could not rule out being influenced by a handwritten note from former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak about a loan to SRC International Sdn Bhd, the High Court heard today.

During today’s hearing, Azian was explaining the context of her previous testimony on the meanings of the words “influenced” and “compelled” from when she was asked if she felt the note from Najib obligated her to approve the loan.

“As I mentioned earlier, the words compulsion and influence give different connotations. I did say there was no legal compulsion but I cannot say the same for influence.

“The notation in the letter was addressed to me and it came from the finance minister and prime minister, the person in charge of KWAP. He is my ultimate boss.

“So I cannot deny there is a certain amount of influence,” she told the court during re-examination by deputy public prosecutor Datuk Ishak Mohd Yusoff here.

Previously, Azian told the court she agreed that the pension fund’s investment panel did not approve a proposed loan to SRC International in its July 5, 2011 meeting, despite receiving a letter with then prime minister Najib’s notation of approval.

The June 3, 2011 letter from SRC International proposing a RM3.95 billion loan from KWAP was addressed to Najib, with Najib adding on his note of approval on June 5, 2011.

The letter was hand-delivered by Najib’s then special officer Datuk Azlin Alias to Azian in a hotel lobby after office hours in June 2011.

Azian also previously confirmed that she had read Najib’s note together with the June 2011 letter’s title, taking it to mean that the then prime minister agreed to SRC International’s proposal for KWAP to “invest” RM3.95 billion into the company.

However, KWAP’s Fixed Income Department later prepared an investment paper to propose KWAP consider lending only RM1 billion instead of the RM3.95 billion sought by SRC International.

When asked later by Najib’s lawyer, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, to clarify what she meant by “influence”, Azian explained that she felt it was not an uncommon reaction from a subordinate when instructions were given from a superior.

When pressed if she, as a responsible KWAP chief executive, would have made a decision against the interest of KWAP purely based on her superior’s “influence”, she disagreed.

“As the chief executive, it is my fiduciary duty to protect KWAP to not suffer losses on its investment,” she said.

“I cannot give a yes or no answer, as it could be misconstrued, but whatever influence I perceived, I would not be doing something that will breach any law or Act,” she responded when asked again by Shafee if she had made any decisions as KWAP CEO based on hierarchical pressure.

Azian is the 38th prosecution witness of Najib’s ongoing trial involving seven charges of abuse of position, criminal breach of trust and money-laundering over RM42 million of SRC International’s funds.

In her testimony to court, she said the letter she received in June 2011 was signed off by SRC International director Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, with the letter addressed to Najib as the prime minister and finance minister then.

She said the letter to Najib was SRC International’s letter to apply for a RM3.95 billion loan from KWAP for the purposes of working capital and general investment.

The trial before High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali resumes tomorrow.