KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 5 — Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor was influential as the wife of then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and had initially asked a company for a bribe of over RM200 million before seeking a lesser sum while wielding the influence, the High Court heard today.
Lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram today read out the prosecution’s opening statement at the start of Rosmah’s highly-anticipated bribery-for-contract trial, describing the 68-year-old as an “overbearing” person as well as her conduct in the alleged corruption scandal.
“By herself, she occupied no official position. However, she wielded considerable influence by reason of her overbearing nature. She placed herself in a position where she was able to influence decisions in the public sector,” Sri Ram read, which led to Rosmah’s lawyer, Datuk Jagjit Singh, immediately objecting.
Sri Ram went on to say that the prosecution will provide both direct and circumstantial evidence to show that Rosmah asked for and received bribes, and that she had played an “active role” to help a company get a project in return for the bribes.
He said that Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd managing director and majority shareholder Saidi Abang Samsudin had wanted to secure a contract for a solar hybrid project for 369 Sarawak rural schools from the Education Ministry, but that a meeting with his business partner Rayyan Radzwill Abdullah and then education minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid had proved unsuccessful.
Sri Ram said the prosecution will show that Saidi managed, with the help of an individual named Aazmey Abu Talib, to get Najib’s minuted support on Jepak’s application letter for the project, but that it did not speed up matters with the Education Ministry.
Sri Ram said Saidi and his business partner Rayyan managed to meet Rosmah through a meeting arranged by Datuk Rizal Mansor — known to be her aide then — that took place between January and April 2016 at Rosmah’s private home on Jalan Langgak Duta in Kuala Lumpur.
Sri Ram said Saidi was ready to offer a huge sum of money to Rosmah in exchange for her helping the company to get the Education Ministry project, and that Saidi had offered to make a “political donation” to Rosmah’s husband Najib to show “gratitude” to the latter for having already placed a minute on the application to support it.
“It is of importance to note that the accused did not hold any position of responsibility in any political party at that time. The accused knew that the so-called ‘political donation’ was meant as a bribe for her. Payment was contingent on her using her influence to obtain the solar hybrid contract for Saidi’s company,” Sri Ram said, adding that Rosmah had allegedly “incrementally increased” the amount of political donation sought to RM187.5 million.
Sri Ram said the prosecution will show that Rosmah initially wanted to seek 17 per cent of the RM1.25 billion project’s value or over RM200 million, but accepted Rizal’s advice and agreed to accept a lower sum of RM187.5 million or 15 per cent of the contract’s value.
“She used Rizal Mansor to make her demands and to negotiate the bribe that was to be paid to her,” Sri Ram said.
Sri Ram said a now-missing “sham agreement” was created to disguise the payment and hide the name of the true recipient of the funds, but said the agreement’s creator Lawrence Tee will appear as a witness to verify the matter.
Sri Ram said the prosecution will show that Saidi gave RM5 million in cash to Rosmah at her official residence in Putrajaya on December 20, 2016 after the Education Ministry issued a letter of award for the contract to Jepak.
He also said Saidi delivered a further RM1.5 million cash to Rosmah at her Langgak Duta house on September 7, 2017 after the Education Ministry made payments to Jepak following the contract’s execution on June 20, 2017.
Sri Ram also said that the prosecution would present evidence to show Rosmah acted with a “corrupt intention” at all material times.
Rosmah's lawyer cries 'character assasination'
Rosmah's lawyer Jagjit then reiterated his objection to certain remarks in Sri Ram's opening statement, including those on her alleged “overbearing nature” and considerable influence and alleged influencing of decisions in the public sector.
Jagjit argued that the law only provides for the prosecution to start a trial by stating the nature of the case and that it "does not give the prosecution the licence to defame a person, to use adjectives".
"These are the remarks which they themselves choose to give an overdose of publicity to the press, not us. They should be expunged, because the law says you only go on the facts of the case," he said.
Claiming that these remarks in the opening statement amount to a "character assasination", Jagjit applied to the court for the removal of several lines up to the comment on Rosmah's alleged influence of decisions in the public sector to avoid an "overdose of publicity in the press".
Sri Ram, however, argued that there was no "character assasination" against Rosmah, and that it was important to show how she had acted in this case, what role she played and how she played it as this is a corruption case.
"In a corruption case, the conduct of the accused from beginning to end is relevant," Sri Ram, adding that the prosecution would also present evidence to show Rosmah's disposition as it was "important to show corrupt intention".
High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan, however, rejected Jagjit's request for the removal of the lines with descriptions regarding Rosmah in the opening statement for the trial.
"I cannot possibly dictate to the prosecution how they conduct their case... I can't jump the gun here," the judge said, as he asked for the trial to proceed with the calling in of prosecution witnesses.
Rosmah was seen leaning against a cushion in the dock this morning by around 10am, which was the scheduled time for the trial, after having missed the initial first day of trial on Monday due to her medical conditions.
The prosecution had on Monday objected to the use of the medical certificate to justify Rosmah’s failure to show up, arguing that it was a “last-minute attempt” to avoid attending court.
Rosmah’s husband Najib, who is also in the court complex today for his separate corruption trial involving RM42 million of former 1MDB subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd’s funds, was seen briefly in her courtroom while her trial was ongoing.
This is the first time that both husband and wife are in court together to face their separate trials, which were held in different courtrooms on the same floor.