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Ex- foreign affairs minister says Cabinet not alerted of Saudi funds as it was personal donation

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 13): Former foreign affairs minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, the sixth defence witness in the SRC International Sdn Bhd trial, told the court that the Cabinet was not alerted of the alleged financial assistance from the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia as it was a personal donation.

During cross-examination by ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram, Anifah, 67, was questioned over why the Cabinet was not informed, given that the witness and former minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom — both being Cabinet members at the material time — knew about the funds.

Sithambaram: Given that Cabinet members — yourself and Datuk Seri Jamil Khir — knew about the foreign donation, why was the Cabinet not informed about this?

Anifah: Because it was a personal donation to Najib.

Sithambaram: Are you saying that the prime minister can accept gifts from a foreign government in his private capacity?

Anifah: He was given the funds in a personal capacity. It was separate from the government.

Sithambaram: Your evidence is based on what you heard from Datuk Seri Najib and Datuk Seri Jamil Khir.

Anifah: Yes. I had no personal knowledge of the matter.

While the fifth and sixth defence witnesses — former Malaysian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Datuk Syed Omar Alsagoff and Jamil Khir — testified that there was an unofficial meeting prior to the official meeting, Anifah said he has no knowledge of the earlier meeting.

He told the court that he was told of King Abdullah's intention to provide financial support to Najib later, after a private meeting between the two heads of state, during which Jamil Khir and Syed Omar were present.

Soon after the meeting, as Najib, Anifah and Jamil Khir were walking out of the hall, he said that the former premier posed a question to Jamil Khir, confirming with the latter whether the king had said that the donation would be sent to his personal account.

Sithambaram: I put it to you that it was only later in June 2010 that Jho Low told Datuk Seri Najib that King Abdullah had agreed to provide support in the form of financial donations and not during the January meeting.

Anifah: I disagree.

Sithambaram: All your evidence relating to financial donation from King Abdullah between Jan 13 and 16, 2010, is wholly untrue.
 
Anifah: I disagree.
 
The witness testified that he did not know of the amount of funds to be sent to Najib's account, nor did he know of the source of the funds.
 
He also agreed that he did not know as a fact that money from the king was actually sent to Najib's account.
 
The witness said it was fine for Najib to receive foreign funds as it was for political and corporate social responsibility (CSR) purposes.
 
Asked if the king actually said that the money was to be used for CSR purposes, he said he was only told afterwards by Najib.
 
Sithambaram also asked the former minister questions relating to fugitive financier Low Taek Jho's ties to the Saudi royal family.
 
Anifah said he was not aware of Low's ties with the royal family and has not met Low.
 
Sithambaram: From the evidence of Datuk Seri Najib, he mentioned that Jho Low had more clout with the Saudi royal family than Wisma Putra itself.
 
Anifah: I didn't know about this.

The Edge is reporting the proceedings of the SRC trial live.

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