Najib defends rights to use funds in his accounts, says he is very prudent

The defendant denies using the funds for neither personal interests nor self-enrichment


FORMER Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak asserted that he had the rights to use a portion of funds channelled into his bank accounts for personal purposes.

Najib, who is testifying in his defence in SRC International Sdn Bhd trial, said between August 2013 and March 2015, he had only used 0.4% of the funds received in his accounts, or equal to nearly RM750,000, for private spending.

The defendant denied using the funds for neither personal interests nor self-enrichment.

“As I have said, I am of the opinion that I have the right to use the funds if I feel I need to. Again, I am very prudent in expenditures,” he told the Kuala Lumpur (KL) High Court yesterday.

On his third day on the witness stand, Najib said a total of RM210.7 million was spent via cheques from his bank accounts (ended with 906 and 898) with AmBank (M) Bhd.

The former Umno president and Barisan Nasional chairman detailed in the court on the spending, which RM95.1 million (45% was distributed to political parties; RM81.8 million (39.3%) was used for political and corporate social responsibility purposes; RM29.6 million (13.7%) to charities or non-governmental organisations; RM233,800 (0.1%) for repair and upgrade works at his residences in Langgak Duta, KL and Sri Kayangan, Pahang; RM748,583.62 (0.4%) debited via credit-card transactions; and RM3.28 million for a gift to a foreign leader.

The Pekan MP said US$130,625 (RM466,330.11) was spent using a credit card at a Chanel boutique in Honolulu, Hawaii on December 2014 to purchase a birthday present for his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

He further said a RM127,017.46 credit card billed at Shangri-La Hotel in Bangkok in January 2015 was during a private holiday, but he took the chance to meet Thai PM

Prayut Chan-O-Cha to discuss ways for Thailand to provide assistance to the flood-hit Kelantan.

Najib added that the €763,500 (RM3.52 million) spent at a de Grisogono store in Sardinia, Italy, in August 2014 was for a gift to Noor Abdulaziz Abdulla Turki Al-Subaie, the wife of former Qatari PM Sheikh Ahmed Jassim Al-Thani.

De Grisogono is a Swiss luxury jeweller founded in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1993 by a LebaneseItalian black diamond specialist Fawaz Gruosi.

“I was in Sardinia, Italy, for a private holiday with the family. I bumped into Sheikh Ahmed Jassim, a Qatari businessman, a politician and a member of the royal family Al-Thani. He was the Qatari PM at that time. It was a coincidence during our holiday and we planned to meet in Sardinia,” Najib said.

Meanwhile, Najib also testified that he never formally verified facts on the Saudi Arabian donations with Wisma Putra.

Defence counsel Rahmat Hazlan: Did Datuk Seri, at any time, try to formally verify facts about Arab Saudi donations through Wisma Putra?

Najib: No.

Rahmat: Why not?

Najib: This is because the disclosure of the donations came not long after King Abdullah Abdulaziz Al-Saud privately expressed support to me during the visit in January 2010. Jho Low’s (Low Taek Jho) role and other matter had strengthened my trust in him regarding his strong relationship with the Saudi royal family and his recognised role as a mediator. Thus, I had no reasonable cause to doubt the authenticity of the donations. I, however, must stress that my belief that the funds were donations had never been kept secret. The matter had been informed to AmBank, and all transactions and documents had been reported to Bank Negara Malaysia and Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz. This issue had never been raised at any time.

Najib was not acquitted from all the charges related to the embezzlement of SRC International’s RM42 million funds. He completed reading out his 243-page witness statement yesterday.

The former PM faces a maximum jail sentence of 20 years and fine for the crimes, if convicted.

The trial continues today with examination by the defence, before being cross-examined by the prosecutors.

Najib’s legal team is expected to call former Attorney General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali as a witness in the trial.