KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 ― Tan Sri Mohd Bakke Salleh today said he was briefed in two meetings with former Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Datuk Seri Hasan Arifin on the kind of testimony that would be acceptable to then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in an upcoming 2016 PAC hearing on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Apart from being told to not mention Najib or Low Taek Jho during the PAC inquiry on 1MDB, Bakke said he was also told to essentially blame irregularities in 1MDB on the 1MDB management.
Bakke, who was formerly a chairman of 1MDB for a short while in 2009, had previously said that Najib had made a phone call to him to ask him to met Hasan, two weeks ahead of Bakke’s testimony in 2016 in the PAC probe on 1MDB.
Asked by lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram on whether he had asked Najib the reason for the meeting with Hasan, Bakke said: “Well, I asked him, he explained that, just wanted to make sure the way that we respond to the PAC hearing and the answers and replies, all that, you know, would be in harmony.”
Sri Ram: Harmony with what?
Bakke: That means some kind of agreement, that would be, I would say, acceptable to the PM.
Bakke added that he had told Najib that his concerns would be allayed or better resolved if Bakke was not called in to appear before the PAC, noting: “He said it’s too late, you still have to appear. Because by not appearing, then I don’t say anything.”
Confirming that he had then met Hasan twice before appearing before the PAC in the 1MDB probe, Bakke said that these meetings took place at a special officer in charge of public relations for then PM Najib.
“At the two meetings with Datuk Hasan Arifin and also this Datuk Seri Ahmad Farid Ridzuan, special officer person in charge of PR activities at PM’s office, he was there as well, because the meeting took place at his house - Datuk Seri Ahmad Farid Ridzuan.
“So it was clear that the purpose of having the meeting is for us to have a common understanding, what had to be said or what had to be avoided. That was essentially the discussion,” Bakke said.
Asked by Sri Ram what was the common things that had to be said or avoided during the PAC inquiry, Bakke explained: “The thing that had to be said, was that you know, all these irregularities and shenanigans happened because of management’s oversight and non-compliance with good corporate governance and all that.
“So it was really trying to say that this was this was the direction, the way we should respond to the questions from PAC members, and avoid making any reference to the PM and also Jho Low, yeah, so that was what happened,” Bakke added.
Bakke however yesterday said he did not allow anyone to influence him and that he was not going to mince his words, confirming that he would not compromise his testimony at the PAC inquiry.
Bakke had also confirmed mentioning both Low’s name and Najib’s name in relation to 1MDB during his testimony before the PAC on February 11, 2016.
Najib’s 1MDB trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes on June 7.