KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 21): Datuk Seri Abdul Najib Razak said he did not consult Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah when he approved the transfer of ownership of SRC International Sdn Bhd to Minister of Finance Inc (MoF Inc) in 2012, as the decision did not have any financial implication to the government.
While cross-examining Najib, ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram said Husni, who was the second finance minister at the time, was not consulted despite protocol dictating otherwise.
"Yes, but it does not mean that it has to be that way all the time. I gave an explanation [in my witness statement]," said the former prime minister.
In his witness statement, Najib said the protocol requires the decision to go through the second finance minister, although he qualified his statement by saying that the decision did not involve any financial implication to the government and that it could be approved by either himself or Husni.
"I put it to you that you bypassed [Husni], despite the second finance minister being in charge of MoF Inc companies. This was done without his consultation," said the DPP.
"There was no financial implication [on the government]," Najib said.
"But you should at least inform the other person," said Sithambaram.
"Either one of us can approve it," replied Najib, who was finance minister then.
The transfer of ownership of SRC from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) to MoF Inc follows the issuance of the second government guarantee to SRC for it to obtain the second RM2 billion loan from Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) in 2012. KWAP had already given a RM2 billion loan to SRC in August 2011.
The DPP then pointed to a letter which showed that the second finance minister could propose ideas to the finance minister for the latter's approval, although Najib said it was not done because it is not compulsory.
Sithambaram puts it to the witness that he did not consult Husni in order to keep the latter out of the loop and not look into either SRC or 1MDB.
The DPP then probed Najib's previous statement on how he had mentioned the decision to Husni in passing, because the second finance minister had expressed reservation previously.
"I put it to you that you had not informed him of the transfer [of SRC to MoF Inc]," said Sithambaram.
"I disagree," said Najib.
"In [Husni's] testimony, he said that he only saw the letter during the MACC investigation. He did not know anything about it prior to that," said Sithambaram.
"I disagree," said Najib.
"This evidence, in your witness statement, is an afterthought after hearing Husni's evidence that it was done without his knowledge," said Sithambaram, referring to how Najib said he had mentioned the matter to Husni in passing.
"I disagree," said the former premier.
Former Treasury deputy secretary-general Datuk Mat Noor Nawi had in July last year testified that SRC had written directly to Najib for its ownership to be transferred from 1MDB to MoF Inc.
He said Najib wanted to see a draft of the transfer of ownership, so Mat Noor had delivered it to the prime minister, who was at the Subang Air Force Base to catch a flight, at that time.
Najib subsequently read and signed the draft on the bonnet of his official car.
The former premier is facing seven counts in relation to the embezzlement of RM42 million from SRC.
The Edge is reporting the proceedings of the SRC trial live.