Saudi ‘donations’ came after Malaysian govt sought money for political longevity, court told in SRC trial

Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court, February 11, 2020. — Pictures by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court, February 11, 2020. — Pictures by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 11 — Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom testified in court today that he understood funds originating from the Saudi Royal family which ended up in Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s personal bank accounts were proceeds following an application for financial assistance by the Malaysian government to ensure political longevity, and not as a result of an outright donation. 

The former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, when taking the stand as the fifth defence witness in Najib’s RM42 million SRC International Sdn Bhd corruption trial, said the supposed application for the financial assistance was not discussed or raised with other ministers at Cabinet meetings. 

Under cross-examination from prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram, Jamil Khir said he was present at an informal meeting between Najib and the Saudi monarch, King Abdullah Abdulaziz Al-Saud in August 2010, but the amount of the cash injection was not mentioned by either party.

Sithambaram: You mentioned in your witness statement over financial support from Arab Saudi to Malaysia through the Prime Minister at that time. As a fact, do you know if the Malaysian government asked for a donation from Saudi Arabia or did they offer the donation?

Jamil Khir: As far as I know, we made an application.

Sithambaram: Was the request for the funds from Saudi Arabia discussed in Cabinet? 

Jamil Khir: Not to my knowledge. 

Sithambaram: Do you know why something important like this, which looks like Malaysia through the prime minister is requesting for assistance from a foreign country, was not discussed in Cabinet? 

Jamil Khir: I am not sure. 

The former minister in charge of Islamic matters also agreed with Sithambaram that the entire process of applying for the funds from the Saudi royals was kept from the public, and was effectively a state secret.

Sithambaram: The matter of the private contribution to Najib’s private account, you agreed that it was not made public knowledge. Do you know why it was not broadcasted?

Jamil Khir: I felt this was a personal contribution which was deemed acceptable from a legal standpoint, so there was no need for it to be discussed. 

He also replied in the negative when asked if he was aware of Najib’s previous testimony that fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, otherwise Jho Low, was the person arranging the donations between the Saudi Royals and Malaysian government. 

Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court, February 11, 2020.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court, February 11, 2020.

Jamil Khir however did corroborate with Najib’s previous testimony that the Saudi government were forthcoming and generous towards the Malaysian government due to their adoration and respect of how the Barisan Nasional administration had steered the country as a leading moderate Muslim nation. 

The trial before High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali resumes on Thursday with former Foreign minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman expected to take the stand as the next defence witness. 

Najib is currently on trial over 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.

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