KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 13 ― The monetary assistance offered by then Saudi ruler King Abdullah Abdulaziz Al-Saud in January 2010 channelled into Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s personal bank accounts was inconsequential since the donation was used for corporate social responsibility (CSR) purposes, a Cabinet member testified in the High Court today.
Former foreign minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said Najib had asked for his opinion on the financial donation being transferred to the latter’s personal bank accounts.
“I assured him that it does not matter since the donation was to be used for CSR and
political purposes and it has been a common practice in Umno for the president of the party to be in charge personally of most of the political funds,” he said in his witness statement here.
Anifah was testifying at the High Court as the sixth defence witness in Najib’s RM42 million SRC International Sdn Bhd corruption trial.
He earlier affirmed that an “official” meeting between the two heads of state had taken place at King Abdullah’s palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia somewhere around January 2010, which he attended in his capacity as minister of foreign affairs.
Anifah however said records of unofficial meetings were seldom kept and more so in this case as it was arranged as an addendum to the official visit of the then prime minister.
“The unofficial meeting took place about the time of the commencement of the prime minister’s official visit to Saudi Arabia which was set to commence on January 13, 2010 until January 16, 2010,” he said, adding he was unsure the exact date of the informal meeting.
He pointed out he no longer has access to the diary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for 2010, considering Barisan Nasional’s defeat in the 14th general election which saw a change in government.
Apart from Anifah and Najib, two other Malaysian representatives ― former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom and former Malaysian ambassador to Saudi Arabia Datuk Syed Omar Al Saggaf ― were also present during the informal meeting.
Najib has maintained throughout his trial that multiple transactions amounting to RM3.2 billion from 2011 to 2013 in his personal bank accounts were Saudi royal family donations.
He said he believed the funds, which originated from senders identified as Prince Faisal Turki, Blackstone Real Estate Partner and Tanore Finance Corp, were part of donations from King Abdullah.
Corroborating two other defence witnesses’ testimonies which Najib had called in his defence, Anifah also said it was understood that King Abdullah did not want this contribution of money to be vaguely disbursed.
“Putting the money in the personal account of the Prime Minister would bring about easier controls,” he added.
He recalled how Najib sought for clarification from Jamil Khir regarding the confidential dialogue between him and King Abdullah as to whether he was correct in understanding that King Abdullah preferred the financial donation to be transferred to Najib’s personal bank account.
“I took note of this seriously as the prime minister was simultaneously talking to both of us. Jamil Khir then confirmed the accuracy of Najib’s understanding,” he said.
Anifah told the court he eventually discovered that the Saudi monarch had intended to provide financial aid for the Najib’s political needs, describing King Abdullah as an ardent supporter of Najib.
Explaining King Abdullah’s support, Anifah said the Saudi monarch was impressed with the Malaysian government, which had been able to maintain Malaysia as a moderate Muslim country.
“On this basis, the financial aid was meant to consolidate the government’s stability further and therefore to prevent unhealthy influence of extremism.
“King Abdullah took note of the fact that Malaysia would face the [13th general election] very imminently and was anxious that Najib would receive all the support that His Majesty could provide,” he said.
During examination-in-chief by Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah on whether it was King Abdullah who offered the financial assistance or Najib had requested so, Anifah said it was the former.
“From my understanding, it is the King who offered from my own observation,” he said.
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.