Witness says told to rush SRC’s guarantee for RM2b loan since it was ‘PM’s company’

The Finance Ministry’s Strategic Investment Department deputy secretary Afidah Azwa Abdul Aziz arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex June 20, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
The Finance Ministry’s Strategic Investment Department deputy secretary Afidah Azwa Abdul Aziz arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex June 20, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, June 20 — A government official testified that she was informed by her superior to expedite the preparation of an internal memo over the granting of the first government guarantee for SRC International’s Sdn Bhd’s first RM2 billion loan as it was the “prime minister’s company”, the High Court heard today.

During re-examination by deputy public prosecutor Datuk Suhaimi Ibrahim, the prosecution’s 41st witness Afidah Azwa Abdul Aziz made the startling revelation when asked to clarify what she meant in her witness testimony.

Afidah — the strategic investment department deputy secretary in the Finance Ministry — previously testified that she was instructed to prepare the internal memo and a Cabinet memorandum on the same day to be included for the Cabinet’s consideration on August 15, 2011.

She said that she had confronted her former superior Maliami Hamad on the need to expedite the preparation of an internal memo for the Cabinet’s deliberation over the granting of the first government guarantee for SRC International.

Suhaimi: Did you ask your superior? What was the answer?

Afidah: It is an instruction from the higher ups.

Suhaimi: Was there any followed up questions?

Afidah Azwa: I asked why the need to rush. He answered this was the PM’s company.

At that time, Datuk Seri Najib Razak was the prime minister who also held the portfolio of finance minister.

Najib, who is still Pekan MP, is being tried with abusing his position, criminal breach of trust and money laundering over RM42 million of SRC International’s funds.

Former solicitor-general II of Malaysia Datuk Mohd Yusof Zainal Abidin who represented Najib, immediately stood up to object the admission of Afidah Azwa’s aural testimony, claiming it was mere hearsay.

Ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram then argued before pointing out that it cannot be hearsay as Maliami will be called as a witness to testify and affirm the communications with Afidah.

Sithambaram also accused the defence of deliberately objecting whenever evidence was adduced against their client.

“This is deliberately done when evidence is against them. They stand up and object,” he said.

High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali then allowed the witness’s testimony to be admissible in court after he heard submissions from both prosecution and defence.

“The answer just given purely was what was told to her and at this stage not meant to prove whether it is the truth or not.

“As such I allow the answer to be admitted,” he said.

Earlier during cross-examination by Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Afidah Azwa said she would be given the same answer all the time whenever she had questions about SRC International during the drafting process.

The facts were given by SRC International chief executive Nik Faisal and company representative Zahid Taib when they went to the Finance Ministry to seek a guarantee for the RM2 billion loan.

“We would only answer to the PM,” she said in reference to the reply she got from both Nik Faisal and Zahid.

She previously testified that SRC International’s outstanding debt to KWAP stood at RM4.15 billion as of May 2019, which the federal government has to pay in full.

In her testimony, she also said Najib’s administration had bailed out SRC International for a total of RM642 million between November 2015 and December 2017 after the company failed to furnish its RM4 billion loan debt.

The trial before Mohd Nazlan resumes on July 1.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex June 20, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex June 20, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

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