Najib issued cheque to 2 parties via middleman, court told

We do not want that to be circulating on Facebook. So we would rather pay to somebody we trusted, says witness


FORMER Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak issued a cheque worth RM246,000 to a property tycoon instead of two entities directly, the Kuala Lumpur High Court was told yesterday.

Fifth prosecution witness Datuk Wong Nai Chee, 50, said the cheque paid to Tan Sri Lim Soon Peng was meant for the two parties — namely Akademi Kewartawanan dan Informasi Taima Sdn Bhd and AD Networks.

The Akademi Kewartawanan dan Informasi Taima owns the Chinese Weekly publication, while AD Networks was the administrator of the “Ah Jib Gor” Facebook page account.

Wong, who is also a former legal secretary at the PM’s Office (PMO), said both the Chinese Weekly and Ah Jib Gor were used as platforms for Najib to disseminate “objective and balanced” views on government’s policies and economy to the Chinese community.

He said this during examination-in-chief by lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram on the second day of Najib’s trial in relation to the four charges of having used his positions to obtain gratification totalling RM2.3 billion in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) funds and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same money.

Sri Ram: Can you explain to his Lordship why the cheques were not paid out to these two entities directly?

Wong: It was paid to Lim for a back-to-back payment to these two parties, because we trusted Lim, he would not run away with the money, and these incurred for the Chinese Weekly publication, as well as to maintain the Ah Jib Gor Facebook.

Sri Ram: Why is it back-to-back? What do you mean?

Wong: If we were to issue a personal cheque of the (PM), we do not want that to be circulating on Facebook. So we would rather pay to somebody we trusted. We trust Lim.

Sri Ram: You said, “we” did not want the cheques circulated on Facebook. Who you mean by “we”?

Wong: Myself and PM (Najib).

Wong also confirmed that Najib had signed a cheque dated Jan 21, 2012, for RM30,000 issued out to him (Wong), saying that the sum was the payment for fees to political analysts, but could not remember exactly when did he receive the cheque.

During the same session, another witness confirmed that Najib had issued a RM100,000 cheque to Batu Kawan Umno in 2013, allegedly sourced from 1MDB’s funds.

Batu Kawan Umno division chief Datuk Mohd Noor Ahmad testified that Najib, who was the Umno president, signed the cheque dated Aug 6, 2013, during a meeting at the PMO in Putrajaya.

The sixth prosecution witness said the sum was used to conduct community activities in Batu Kawan, Penang.

Meanwhile, the court was also told that Najib had endorsed the name of Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) to be changed to 1MDB.

Seventh prosecution witness Rafidah Yahaya, a deputy registrar at Companies Commission of Malaysia, testified that Najib had signed a resolution dated Sept 4, 2009, on the change of name from TIA to 1MDB.

Najib signed the document in his capacity as finance minister at the material time.

TIA was incorporated on Feb 27, 2009.

Sri Ram said in his opening statement last Wednesday that Najib was instrumental for the name change and the accused caused amendments to be made to the articles of the company to place himself in sole control.

Rafidah also testified on the TIA’s appointed directors in its early days — namely Tengku Rahimah Puteri Sultan Mahmud Al Mukhtafi Billah Shah, Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, Tan Sri Ismee Ismail, Tan Sri Mohd Bakke Salleh, Tan Sri Lodin Wok Kamaruddin and Tan Sri Azlan Zainol.

Mohd Bakke resigned as director in late 2009, Rafidah confirmed based on the company’s documents.

She also verified that 1MDB has increased its share capital from RM1 million to RM1 billion on Feb 25, 2013.

More than 100 documents related to four 1MDB-linked companies — Powertek Investment Holdings Sdn Bhd, Powertek Energy Sdn Bhd, Merpati Energy (Langat) Sdn Bhd and Mastika Lagenda Sdn Bhd — were verified in the proceeding.

The 1MDB’s subsidiaries underwent various name changes and amendments to the articles of the companies.

For instance, it started with Marvellous Intelligence Sdn Bhd, then changed to 1MDB Energy (Langat) Sdn Bhd, to Edra Energy (Langat) Sdn Bhd and to Merpati Energy Langat Sdn Bhd, as verified by Rafidah.

Other example was with Tuan Arif Sdn Bhd, which changed to Tanjong Energy Holdings Sdn Bhd and later to Powertek Energy Sdn Bhd.

Rafidah also confirmed the appointment of Najib’s special officer, Datuk Wan Shihab Wan Ismail, as one of the directors at Tanjong Energy.

The 1MDB trial adjourned until next Tuesday.

Lead defence counsel Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah had proposed that the trial to be ended at 4.30pm each day as his client has experienced back strains due to long sitting hours on the wooden bench of accused dock.