KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 — Tan Sri Ismee Ismail told the High Court today that he wanted to quit as a board director of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) back in 2015 as he no longer wanted any part in the decisions being made by the state-owned investment firm.
The 57-year-old prosecution witness said he submitted his resignation letter to Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin, whom he described as the private secretary to then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in June 2015.
“I made this decision due to being worried and not wanting to be involved anymore in future decisions that will be made by that company. But this resignation letter was not accepted,” Ismee told the court.
“Datuk Amhari asked me to postpone my decision at that time as one of the options being considered was to change the entire board of directors,” Ismee said.
“But in 2016, all of us in the 1MDB board of directors and management resigned, since a new board of directors and management was appointed,” he added.
Ismee was testifying as the 13th prosecution witness in Najib’s trial involving alleged power abuse and money laundering charges in relation to more than RM2 billion of 1MDB funds.
Ismee had been a director at 1MDB’s predecessor Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) after it was set up in 2009, and had continued to be a director in 1MDB after TIA was renamed as 1MDB the same year.
Amhari, a former special officer of Najib, had previously also testified in this trial as the eighth prosecution witness.
During the events and transactions involving 1MDB that are the subject matter of this trial, Najib was the finance minister and prime minister.
Najib was also chairman of 1MDB’s board of advisers due to his role as prime minister, with 1MDB’s company constitution requiring the prime minister’s prior written approval for matters such as the appointment and removal of the company’s directors and senior management.
According to 1MDB’s company constitution, the prime minister’s prior written approval was also required for any financial commitments by 1MDB, including investments or other matters likely to affect government guarantees, national interests, national security or government policies, with the government to make the “final and conclusive” decision on what amounts to national interests, national security and national policies.
The trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah is expected to resume on December 13.
Following recent approvals from three High Court judges hearing his criminal trials and the Court of Appeal, Najib was allowed to have his passport temporarily released from October 25 until December 6 for him to travel to Singapore where his grandson was recently born.
Najib’s lawyer previously told the courts that his client is expected to be in Singapore from November 21 until December 5, and would be able to attend trial from December 13 onwards when his quarantine ends upon his return from Singapore.