by BERNAMA/ pic by BERNAMA
THE High Court hearing Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) case was today told that PetroSaudi International (PSI) was called a ‘Pain in the A”(ass) or PITA by the management of the 1MDB.
This was disclosed by former 1MDB chief executive officer Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi (picture), 50, during cross-examination by Najib’s counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah when the lawyer asked him on “PITA Project”.
When asked by Muhammad Shafee on what PITA stands for, the ninth prosecution witness said it was an internal joke among the 1MDB management.
Shahrol Azral: ‘P’ stands for PSI, and ‘ITA’ stands for ‘in the A’, because the project was a ‘Pain in the A’.
Muhammad Shafee: So basically PITA was a joke that PetroSaudi was a ‘Pain in the A?
Shahrol Azral: Yes.
Muhammad Shafee: That is the project…the ‘Pain in the A Project?
Shahrol Azral: Yes, to repatriate the fund from PSI.
Muhammad Shafee: Why is it a joke among the management?
Shahrol Azral: It’s a ‘Pain in the A’ because we needed to tread carefully due to sensitivity…so we cannot proceed just on a commercial basis…the board and I felt that this fund is a sensitive issue that we have to manage carefully where Datuk Seri Najib has to be consulted.
To another question, the witness said that nobody in the 1MDB board of directors (BOD) knew what is PITA all about.
“It is very surprising, right? The board would have to ask what PITA Project is, are we buying PITA bread,” asked Muhammad Shafee to which Shahrol Azral replied: “No, it never arose.”
Shahrol Azral, however, agreed with the lawyer’s suggestion that there was another project called “Magnolia”, but insisted that he did not know the meaning of “Magnolia” as it was given and used by Goldman Sachs.
The witness also agreed with Muhammad Shafee’s suggestion that there was no paperwork or presentation made about “PITA Project” to the BOD.
Shahrol Azral said the then 1MDB general counsel Jasmine Loo was supposed to make a representation on the project to the BOD.
“There was no paperwork about PITA Project presented to the board,” he said.
Najib, 67, faces four charges of abusing his position to obtain gratification totalling RM2.3bil in 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same money.
The trial before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues on June 4.