Probe on 1MDB to recover money, not to charge Najib – Zeti

Former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) Governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz (picture) today told the High Court here that the ultimate aim of the investigation carried out by the authorities against 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) was to find out if the company committed any wrongdoing and to recover 1MDB’s money.

The 76-year-old witness denied that the investigation was aimed at finding a way to charge then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and to topple the government.

The said authorities in the Special Task Force set up on March 6, 2015 to investigate 1MDB matters were former Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, Zeti for BNM, former Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar and former Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed.

“That time, the investigation was on 1MDB and not on the PM (Najib). Later, we found out there was a connection,” said Zeti when questioned by Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah at the former prime minister’s trial involving the misappropriation of RM2.3 billion of 1MDB funds.

The 46th prosecution witness also said that she had no knowledge if MACC had secretly investigated Najib at the material time as it was never mentioned in task force meetings.

“If 1MDB were to default, then the implication on our country would be generational to the people currently living and grandchildren,” she said.

Muhammad Shafee: I put it to you the task force was to find a way to topple the sitting prime minister (Najib)?

Zeti: Not correct, as when the task force first met on June 9, 2015, there was no knowledge on the part of anybody from BNM that there was a connection with 1MDB over the prime minister’s account. That is not correct.

Muhammad Shafee: Were you aware there are drafts of charges levied against Najib the sitting premier when an MACC deputy public prosecutor premises was raided?

Zeti: Not aware.

Earlier, Zeti told the court that the central bank only found out the actual sum of money that went into Najib’s account was RM3.2 billion after a joint raid by BNM and MACC on AmBank in 2015.

Muhammad Shafee: I’m putting it to you, you notice the fault is in 1MDB board, 1MDB management, BNM and AmBank, and who is in the accused dock? It is the former PM who did nothing in this transaction. I’m putting it to you, is there anything that can show that Najib was involved in this hoodwinking?

Zeti: RM3.2 billion went into his account and he expended at least RM1 billion, and this is being partly 1MDB monies … that is why.

Muhammad Shafee: You also say ‘that time I didn’t know, now I know’ but when the PM (Najib) says ‘that time I didn’t know, now I know’, you say it is wrong. Why is there a double standard? To this, Zeti replied, “I disagree that it is double standard.”

Apart from that, Zeti also denied the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) established on May 12, 2018, which she was a member of, was set up for the purpose of looking into 1MDB matters.

The CEP comprised former Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainuddin, Zeti for BNM, former Petronas chief executive officer Tan Sri Mohd Hassan Marican, tycoon Tan Sri Robert Kuok and economist Prof Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram.

“I attended the 100 days of meeting (of CEP) and 1MDB was not discussed. Why would they call Robert Kuok and Hassan Marican to discuss 1MDB? We were in the meeting to give advice on the Malaysia economy,” she said.

Najib, 70, faces four charges of using his position to obtain bribes amounting to RM2.3 billion belonging to 1MDB and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.

The trial before Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues tomorrow. — BERNAMA