KUALA LUMPUR: Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak paid RM240,000 for the expenses of the now-defunct news portal Malaysian Digest.
Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi told the High Court here that the portal received a cheque for RM240,000 under the name Vital Spire Sdn Bhd in 2015.
Onn Hafiz, who is the nephew of Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and great-grandson of Umno founder Datuk Onn Jaafar, took the stand as the 16th witness on the seventh day of Najib’s corruption trial here on Tuesday (April 23).
The 41-year-old owned shares in Vital Spire, a consultancy company dealing in leadership and motivation.
“Vital Spire received the cheque for the purpose of running the website malaysiadigest.com,” he said during examination-in-chief by DPP Muhammad Saifuddin Hashim Musaimi.
To a question, Onn Hafiz said the website was set up to “disseminate news”.
DPP Muhammad Saifuddin: Who gave the instruction to set it up?
Onn Hafiz: Najib.
DPP Muhammad Saifuddin: Is it common for you to meet Najib?
Onn Hafiz: Yes. I usually meet him at the Prime Minister’s Office.
The witness said the cheque was written and signed by Najib himself in front of him.
During cross-examination by Najib’s counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Onn Hafiz disagreed that the RM240,000 payment was for his core business in leadership at Vital Spire.
Muhammad Shafee: What is the relationship between Vital Spire and Malaysian Digest?
Onn Hafiz: Expenses incurred by Malaysian Digest are paid through Vital Spire.
Muhammad Shafee: Shall I say the owner of Malaysian Digest is Vital Spire?
Onn Hafiz: (pause)... yes.
When queried on the direction of the website, Onn Hafiz said it had a 12-man team that decided on the content.
He said the website intended to provide balanced news for the general public including to combat fake news.
However, Onn Hafiz said the website had been shut down since July last year.
The trial continues on Wednesday (April 24) before Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.
Najib faces seven charges involving RM42mil belonging to SRC International Sdn Bhd.
On July 4 last year, Najib claimed trial to a charge of abuse of power and three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT) linked to the 1MDB scandal.
He allegedly misappropriated RM42mil in funds belonging to SRC International.
On Aug 8, 2018, he appeared in court again for the second time and was charged with three counts of money laundering involving the same RM42mil.