KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 9 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak wanted former second finance minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah to come up with a “proper plan” to retrieve funds belonging to SRC International Sdn Bhd in Switzerland but chose to keep silent over his intention, the High Court heard today.
Najib, who is currently on trial for siphoning RM42 million from SRC International Sdn Bhd and is testifying in his own defence, said this during cross examination by ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram.
He was earlier pressed by Sithambaram on why Ahmad Husni was disallowed to go to Switzerland to retrieve SRC funds amounting to some RM3.6 billion that was frozen by Swiss authorities over alleged money-laundering offences in 2013.
Sithambaram: You would agree that a company seeking the Swiss government to release frozen money would not be as effective as if the government had sent a representative to secure the money.
Najib: That's debatable.
Sithambaram: This RM3.6 billion belongs to a legitimate government pension fund. If the finance minister or the second finance minister went, it would have been more effective. I cannot imagine otherwise. Why could Ahmad Husni not retrieve it?
Najib: It would be more effective if we have a proper plan.
Sithambaram: Did you come up or tell him to get a proper plan?
Najib: I didn't tell him that but I wanted a proper plan.
Sithambaram: I'm putting it to you, you didn't want him to go and bring the funds back.
Najib: I disagree.
Earlier Najib told the court that Ahmad Husni's request was not formal, describing it as merely a “suggestion” by the latter.
Najib also disagreed with the suggestion that he failed to take an active interest in SRC International to recover the frozen funds despite his role as finance minister, prime minister and Adviser Emeritus up until his term of office which ended in May 2018.
Sithambaram said this was evident when the former 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) unit began to accumulate outstanding interest payments as early as March 2015 with the Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP) sending letters to the company demanding it to make payment or risk triggering an Event of Default (EOD).
Sithambaram: You did not take an active interest in SRC despite your role as finance minister, prime minister and Adviser Emeritus. Do you agree?
Najib: I was dependent on the board. If matters were referred to me then I would take action. SRC is a company like any other.
Sithambaram: Hence, you did not take an active interest.
Najib: I disagree.
Sithambaram: What interest did you show? What did you do?
Najib: I wanted to return the money back (from Switzerland).
Sithambaram: That's what you say but there is no evidence to show that. That may have been an intention of yours but it is not recorded anywhere.
Najib: That's how I wanted it.
Sithambaram: So when it didn't happen why did you stop Husni from going to Switzerland?
Najib: Husni didn't have a proper plan. It was by way of suggestion.
Sithambaram: But it was very clear he seeks your approval to go to Switzerland.
Najib: No, it wasn't a formal request.
Last month, Najib denied in court that he had disallowed Husni from going to Switzerland in 2013 for fear of his alleged cover-up being discovered by the latter.
He had maintained that Ahmad Husni's request was informal.
Previously Ahmad Husni testified that he met with Najib and sought the latter’s permission to bring a delegation comprised of the Finance Ministry, Bank Negara Malaysia and KWAP to clarify the matter with the Swiss authorities.
Najib has been called to enter his defence to answer seven charges related to SRC International.
Three are for criminal breach of trust over a total RM42 million of SRC International funds while entrusted with its control as the prime minister and finance minister then, three more are for laundering the RM42 million, and the last is for abusing the same positions for self-gratification of the same sum.