KUALA LUMPUR (June 18): The board members of SRC International Sdn Bhd would not have been able to remain in their positions if they had refused to follow the instructions of Datuk Seri Najib Razak, said its former chairman Tan Sri Ismee Ismail.
Ismee, who is the 39th prosecution witness in the Najib-SRC trial, said this when asked by the prosecution during his re-examination about the consequences of ignoring the minutes from Najib in whichever capacity — including as prime minister, finance minister, and as the officer in charge of Ministry of Finance Inc (MoF Inc).
"Possibly, now, the board member would have to resign or be removed," said Ismee, who has spent seven days as a witness — the longest in the trial among all witnesses so far.
Earlier, Ismee agreed with prosecution lawyer Datuk V Sithambaram that all advice provided by Najib to SRC need to be implemented "if they are not illegal".
Sithambaram: In short, can this board consider and implement financial decisions or investments independently from the prime minister?
Sithambaram: Were you in a position to ignore it [the advice of prime minister]?
Ismee: At that point in time, I don't think so.
On the discrepancies between the recommendations written in the minutes and the final SRC directors' resolution raised by the defence previously, Ismee stressed that it is "substance over form".
He added that the matters were presented to the board, deliberated by the board and further verified.
As such, while the documents were not verbatim, the gist of the matters was still there.
The defence has previously raised the differences occurring between the minutes and the resolution, as well as the space for SRC board not to undertake all recommendations made by Najib.
Also raised was the possibility of former SRC chief executive office Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil being dishonest when serving as the link between the SRC board and its management, as well as between SRC board and Najib himself.
Earlier during cross-examination, Ismee was asked by lead defence counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah to confirm that Najib and MoF Inc were not the signatories of SRC, and that the only way SRC funds could be taken out is if the signatories sign off the transactions.
Shafee also brought the court's attention to Nik Faisal, whom Ismee agreed the SRC board has placed its trust on.
"I had faith and trusted the whole value chain, or rather the chain of the reporting structure [for SRC], including Nik Faisal and the prime minister himself," said Ismee.
When Shafee raised how Nik Faisal managed SRC's failure to produce its audited report previously, Ismee responded that people make mistakes and his focus was more on the errors, rather than the individuals involved.
"I asked Deloitte if we need a session without management [due to the reporting concerns]. Deloitte said there was no need for such session. We were comforted that everything was in order," Ismee added.
When asked by Shafee if he was instructed to implicate certain people and MoF Inc in the whole fiasco, Ismee denied the speculation.
Ismee has been let go as a prosecution witness near the end of the morning session.
Government retiree Tan Sri Mazidah Abdul Majid, who served as the Cabinet's deputy chief secretary, was called in as the 40th prosecution witness to identify minutes of a Cabinet meeting that recorded ministers discussing the government guarantee for a loan of up to RM2 billion to SRC, which was approved on Aug 24, 2011.