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Ex-minister Jamil was not in Riyadh as he had claimed, says MACC man

KUALA LUMPUR (March 2): Former minister Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom’s testimony that he was with former premier Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak in Saudi Arabia on Jan 11, 2010 for an informal meeting with the late King Abdullah was today disputed by a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigating officer.

Mohd Nasharudin Amir, who is MACC’s assistant commissioner, told the High Court that an article in a bulletin published by the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) stated that Jamil Khir was in fact addressing a gathering in Putrajaya on that day.

There were pictures of the ex-minister giving his address at an auditorium in Putrajaya, said Nasharudin, who had brought along a copy of the bulletin.

Testifying as a defence witness in Najib’s SRC International Sdn Bhd trial, Nasharudin said the article stated that on Jan 11, 2010, Jamil Khir attended a gathering for agencies under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Office.

Jamil Khir, the former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, had previously testified in the trial that on the date in question, he and Najib had been in Riyadh for a meeting.

“This meeting was an unofficial meeting on [Jan 11] … Najib, former foreign affairs minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, former Malaysian ambassador to Saudi Arabia Professor Datuk Syed Omar Alsagoff and myself attended the meeting,” he had testified.

Jamil Khir had then listed out the points of discussion for the meeting, with point No 5 stating: “Financial assistance from Saudi Arabia”.

Jamil Khir also testified that he was one of the few who were privy to discussions between King Abdullah and Najib when the latter had requested for donations from the Saudi ruler.

Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah objected to the prosecution’s bid to tender the Jakim bulletin as evidence unless the author of the bulletin testified to the authenticity of it in court.

Appointed prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram vouched for the authenticity of the document, telling Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali that the document was published by Jakim and attested to by one of Jakim’s staff.

Justice Nazlan then ordered the document to be admitted as an identification document rather than as an exhibit, which means that the document can be referred to in court but its contents cannot be read out.

With regard to Najib’s whereabouts on Jan 11, 2010, the MACC investigating officer said that he was unable to procure a document on the matter from another MACC officer in time for today’s proceeding.

Sithambaram said that the documentation would have ascertained whether Najib was at the official launch of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB)'s corporate headquarters in Kuala Lumpur on that date or in Saudi Arabia as the ex-minister had claimed.

Jamil Khir, Anifah and Omar Alsagoff had all previously testified that Najib was on an unofficial visit to Saudi Arabia from Jan 11 to 13, 2010, followed by an official visit from Jan 13 to 16.

However, pictures that have since gone viral show that Najib was at the launch of the 1MDB head office on Jan 11.

Najib is the sole accused in the SRC trial, facing seven counts of criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of power involving a total of RM42 million SRC funds in 2014 and 2015.

The former prime minister has maintained that the money that he had spent originated from donations from the Saudi royal family.

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