Two ex-ministers shed light on Arab donation issue

Jamil Khir says Najib had applied for the donation before it was granted by King Abdullah. And Anifah says the money was put in the ex-PM’s personal account for easier management

by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

TWO former Cabinet members that had served in Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s administration shed light on the issue of donation from Saudi Arabian royals that has long been implicated in the former prime minister’s (PM) graft trial.

According to former Minister of Islamic Affairs in the PM’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, Najib had first applied for the donation before the Arab monarch granted the request, Bernama reported.

Jamil Khir told the High Court in Kuala Lumpur last week that he knew about the application for donation, although the matter was never discussed in Cabinet meetings as it was not an administrative matter.

He agreed with deputy public prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram’s suggestion that the donation issue was kept from public knowledge.

“If I am not mistaken, the late King of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah Abdulaziz Al Saud did mention that he would send the donation soon and that it would be sent into Najib’s personal account.”

“The King was worried that if the donation was sent into the account of any political entity, it would complicate the process,” he said in a court proceeding for SRC International Sdn Bhd’s trial.

The fifth defence witness, however, claimed he did not know whether King Abdullah did send the donation into Najib’s personal account, the amount and the company involved in the transaction.

In a separate proceeding, former Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman testified that it was not proper for Najib to buy a luxury watch for his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor using the donation.

“Buying a Chanel watch for half a million ringgit for Najib’s wife, would that be proper usage?” Sithambaram asked, to which Anifah replied: “Of course not.”

Previous evidence in court showed that Najib had spent US$130,625 (RM466,330) at a Chanel boutique in Honolulu, the US, in 2014 on a luxury watch as a birthday gift for Rosmah.

The sixth defence witness said it was understood that King Abdullah wanted to avoid the monetary contribution from being “vaguely disbursed” and thus putting the money into Najib’s personal account for easier management.

Anifah said Najib had sought his advice on the donation transaction.

“I assured him that it was alright since the donation was to be used for corporate social responsibility and political purposes, and it was a common practice in Umno for the president of the party to be in charge personally of most of the political funds,” he said.

Anifah also said he never met fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low during his tenure as foreign minister.

On another matter, defence counsel Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told the High Court that a report by a handwriting expert on Najib’s signatures on 13 key SRC International documents would be ready by Feb 26.

The defence will be calling 1Malaysia Development Bhd investigating officer, known as Nasarudin, to testify this week as the seventh defence witness.

Najib has been charged with criminal breach of trust (CBT), money laundering and abuse of power linked the misappropriation of RM42 million of SRC International funds.