KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 ― The High Court today heard testimony from an anti-graft buster who related that Datuk Seri Najib Razak had claimed to have kept hundred of millions of ringgit in his bank account as contingency funds to prevent a repeat of the “September 16, 2008” plan to topple his Barisan Nasional (BN) government.

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Senior Superintendent Nur Aida Arifin, the prosecution’s 49th witness in Najib’s 1MDB trial over the misappropriation of RM2.27 billion that originally belonged to the sovereign investment fund, made the statement during re-examination.

Earlier, deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib had asked Nur Aida whether she had investigated Najib's use of the US$681 million (RM2.081 billion) from Tanore Finance Corp during the course of his interrogation.

“Immediately after the 13th general election (GE13), the funds could not be utilised fully because spending was already sufficient.

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“As to the remaining funds after GE13, I kept them in my bank account temporarily as a contingency in the extraordinary event there was a repeat of the September 16, 2008 incident where Barisan Nasional federal lawmakers were courted by the Opposition to switch allegiance.

“Therefore, I needed to prepare financially even though I disagreed with this practice because I was afraid the Opposition might attempt a similar manoeuvre again.

“But when nothing transpired, I felt the money needed to be returned to its sender, that is Tanore,” Nur Aida said in reading out excerpts from Najib’s statement to the MACC provided in 2018 to the open court.

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The September 16, 2008 event refers to a boast by then Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim that he would be able to take federal power with the defection of at least 30 MPs from BN after the now defunct Pakatan Rakyat coalition ― comprising PKR, DAP and PAS ― won 82 out of 222 seats in Parliament.

In March 2008, the BN coalition lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament for the first time in a national election; it also lost five states to the Pakatan Rakyat coalition.

Despite this, BN still managed to form the federal government under then prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi with Najib as deputy prime minister then.

Najib eventually took over Abdullah as prime minister in early 2009.

The US$681 million in Najib’s bank account is said to have originated from 1MDB subsidiary 1MDB Global Investments Limited's (1GIL) US$3 billion bond before flowing to shadow companies such as Tanore Finance Corp.

Tanore Finance Corp’s owner is Tan Kim Loong. Tan is now known to be an associate of Malaysian fugitive Low Taek Jho, with the latter better known as Jho Low and described by the prosecution as being Najib’s alter ego and mirror image.

Of the US$681 million Najib received in 2013, he returned US$620 million the same year.

A previous witness testified in court the 1MDB-originated funds which reached Tanore as being proceeds from unlawful activities, adding that Tanore then passed US$681 million (RM2.081 billion) in nine transactions to Najib’s AmPrivate Banking-MR between March 22, 2013 to April 10, 2013.

Earlier, Nur Aida also confirmed Najib was given ample opportunity to make any amendments to his statement provided to investigators when it was recorded after the 14th general election in 2018.