Kickbacks, political donations dominate court trials

Najib’s, Rosmah’s and Ahmad Zahid’s cases all went to hearing at KL High Court last week


THE Kuala Lumpur (KL) High Court last week heard how former Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor demanded from a contractor 15% of the RM1.25 billion solar supply project as “contribution” for her alleged assistance in securing the job.

Rayyan Radzwill Abdullah, who was a business partner of Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd MD Saidi Abang Samsudin, testified that Rosmah’s former aide Datuk Rizal Mansor had requested the money, also described as “political donation”, on behalf of the accused.

The 16th prosecution witness also told the High Court that Rizal had requested RM5 million every year for a five-year period, which was the duration of the project, for his cut.

“We talked about our proposal and how we were willing to contribute 10% of the RM1.25 billion project to Rosmah.

“However, she responded by saying that the political scenario then required a lot of money. She said, ‘we will see’ before we were told to leave,” Rayyan said about a meeting he had at Rosmah’s residence in Jalan Langgak Duta, KL.

During a follow-up between him, Saidi and Rizal later on the same day, Rizal informed that everything was fine, but Rosmah wanted 15% instead, according to the witness.

Saidi admitted to having paid Rosmah RM6.5 million for her help in securing the solar power supply contract for the company, said a witness.

Rayyan, who is placed under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) witness protection programme, said the RM6.5 million were paid to Rosmah in two tranches — the first RM5 million was paid through Rizal, while the remaining was delivered in two backpacks to her.

He said the first payment had been fulfilled in December 2016 “as promised” for Rosmah’s role in helping Jepak obtains a letter of agreement for the project.

The second sum had been paid in September 2017 when he and Saidi went to Rosmah’s residence.

“Rosmah also did not seem surprised by the gift of money. I understand the money was given by Saidi as a sign of gratitude for awarding the project to Jepak.

“I only knew that the two backpacks contained RM1.5 million in cash after being told by Saidi when we left Rosmah’s house,” Rayyan said while reading out his witness statement last week.

Rosmah has been charged with soliciting RM187.5 million and two counts of receiving a total bribe of RM6.5 million from Saidi through Rizal concerning the project.

Meanwhile, in Najib’s 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) trial, the company’s former CEO Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi denied attending a meeting outside Malaysia with fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, 1MBD CFO Terence Geh, general counsel Jasmine Loo, and former Goldman Sachs Group Inc bankers Tim Leissner and Roger Ng, to draw up a plan to embezzle millions of dollars from the sovereign wealth fund.

During cross-examination, Shahrol Azral disagreed with suggestions by lawyer Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed that he was tasked by Jho Low and Ng to ensure Goldman Sachs was appointed as 1MDB‘s financial advisor.

He further disagreed with a suggestion that he actively supported all of Goldman Sachs’ proposals in all of the 1MDB board of directors meetings, including the overpriced Tanjong Energy acquisition.

The ninth prosecution witness also refuted an assertion that he was promised kickbacks.

Najib is facing 25 charges — 21 counts of money laundering involving RM4.3 billion (received and transferred) and four counts of corruption involving RM2.3 billion linked to the state wealth funds, which were deposited into his accounts.

Meanwhile, the KL High Court last week granted an interim order to block PetroSaudi International Ltd (PSI) and its director Tarek Obaid from moving over US$340 million (RM1.45 billion) linked to 1MDB.

Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali imposed the temporary freeze of the funds, kept in a UK law firm, pending the disposal of an asset forfeiture application filed by the government through the MACC, which has been fixed for hearing on Aug 28.

The government on July 10 applied for a prohibition order to restrain any dealings of the money amounting to US$340 million held by PSI and its subsidiary PetroSaudi Oil Services (Venezuela) Ltd in the law firm Clyde & Co LLP in the UK.

Separately, in former deputy PM Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s corruption trial, a witness testified that the accused had expressed his willingness to settle loan arrears of US$2.06 million owed by Ri-Yaz Asset Sdn Bhd using Yayasan Akalbudi’s funds before his daughter Datuk Nurulhidayah Ahmad Zahid was able to take over some of the company’s shares.

Former Export-Import Bank of Malaysia Bhd (Exim Bank) chairman Datuk Mat Noor Nawi told the High Court that Ri-Yaz Asset took a US$24.8 million loan with the bank to buy a hotel in Bali, Indonesia, in 2016.

The 76th prosecution witness said Nurulhidayah called him on May 19 of the same year to tell about her interest in acquiring 60% of Ri-Yaz Asset’s shares from the company’s former chairman Tan Sri Rashid Manaf.

Mat Noor said he, Exim Bank former CEO Norzilah Mohamed and Ri-Yaz Asset director Datuk Seri Shaheen Shah Mohd Sidek met Ahmad Zahid and Nurulhidayah at the deputy PM’s office in Putrajaya on June 23, 2016.

He said they, agreed in principle to Nurulhidayah taking over the shares, provided that Ri-Yaz’s overdue loan payment of US$2.058 was settled first.

He further said Ahmad Zahid told him that Nurulhidayah and Shaheen would have to pay the foundation back if its money was used as advance.

Ahmad Zahid is facing 47 criminal charges, including 12 counts of criminal breach of trust, eight for corruption and 27 for money laundering, involving RM31 million funds of Yayasan Akalbudi, chaired by the accused.