Najib paid over RM22m for speeches


THE trial of former prime minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak (picture) resumed today with the testimony of the 45th prosecution witness, Najib’s former assistant Datuk Omar Mustapha, 51.

Omar, who is the director of Semarak Konsortium Satu Sdn Bhd, told the court that his company was hired to prepare and write English speeches for Najib for which he received more than RM22 million in fees.

He said he received RM22.98 million through 39 cheques from March 3, 2011, to April 23, 2014, for services rendered, adding that Semarak Konsortium’s services began when there was an issue with international public relations (PR) firm APCO Worldwide’s dealings with the government.

The government had paid APCO RM76.8 million a year for PR services from July 2009 to June 2010.

This payment had been raised by the then Opposition in Parliament and the contract with APCO was discontinued.

Omar testified that he was approached by Najib’s office to provide speechwriting services after the contract with APCO was terminated.

He said he was initially reluctant to take on the job, but eventually agreed after being assured that he would be paid a “very good fee”.

Omar added that he wrote a total of 22 speeches for Najib, including the keynote address that Najib delivered at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2012.

He also wrote speeches for Najib to deliver at various other events, including the United Nations General Assembly and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

Omar said he was paid a fee of RM1 million for each speech that he wrote and that the payments were made through cheques issued by Najib’s personal bank account.

Najib, 67, is facing four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.28 billion from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving over RM4.3 billion.

The trial is being heard by High Court Judge Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah, with lead prosecutors Ahmad Akram Gharib and Mohamad Mustafa P Kunyalam, and lead defence counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah with 60 persons of prosecution witnesses.