KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 9): Former premier Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak told the High Court today that his principal private secretary, the late Datuk Azlin Alias, informed him in 2014 that he would receive further donations in foreign funds from Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah in addition to US$800 million purportedly gifted by the monarch in early 2013.
Najib said he believes that Azlin may have been told about the additional monies from fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, who is better known as Jho Low.
"At the same time, I was shown a letter dated June 1, 2014, from the same emissary of King Abdullah as per the three earlier letters. I was made to understand that the donation and the letters were given to the bank (AmBank), Bank Negara Malaysia and the then-governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz immediately.
"This formed the basis of my belief that any funds in the [three] new accounts [opened to receive the funds] could be used on my own free will," he said in replying to questions from lawyer Rahmat Hazlan during his SRC International Sdn Bhd trial today.
When the lawyer showed Najib the transfer of close to RM50 million in foreign currencies from Singapore's BlackRock Commodities Ptd Ltd and Seychelles Vista Equity International Partners between June 23, 2014 and Dec 19, 2014, the former premier said as mentioned by Azlin, he thought the amount was from the donation.
"As I said just now, I was informed by Azlin in 2014 there will be a transfer of foreign funds as an addition to the donation from King Abdullah and was shown the letter given to AmBank and Zeti," he said.
The former premier verified with court when the lawyer showed the said June 1, 2014, letter, and said it was the said letter which he had also seen that was kept by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
'I did not formally check with Wisma Putra about donation'
Najib admitted that he had not formally checked with Wisma Putra about the purported Saudi Arabian donation as King Abdullah had told him privately that the kingdom would support him during an official visit in 2010.
"As a result of the role played by [Jho Low] and other things [which] strengthened my belief in the strong relationship between both countries with him [Jho Low] as the intermediary, there is no valid reason for me to doubt over the validity of the donation.
"However, I would like to emphasise that my belief that the funds were a donation is not something which I kept confidential. I had informed AmBank and all the transactions were reported to the central bank and Zeti herself. Never at any time that it had become an issue," he said.
When shown the four letters from the Saudi royal family, Najib replied the letters are from Jho Low, as he had mentioned.
"This shows the close relationship he has with the Saudi royal family. I also realise that this letter were handed to AmBank and Bank Negara.
"I felt relieved with the fact that the letters were reported to Bank Negara and Zeti herself. The fact shows that the central bank did not raise any red flags between 2011 and 2014 although all the transaction[s] [have] led me to believe that everything was in order," he added.
Najib has claimed trial to three counts of criminal breach of trust, one charge of abusing his power as Prime Minister, and three counts of money laundering over SRC funds amounting to RM42 million.
He faces a 20-year jail term and a fine of RM5 million or five times the amount of money laundered, whichever is higher, if convicted.
The Edge is reporting the proceedings of the SRC trial live.