Witness taught difference between ‘govt’ and ‘PM’


KUALA LUMPUR: A former SRC Inter­national Sdn Bhd chairman clashed with the defence of Datuk Seri Najib Razak over the word “government”, which the witness had equated with the latter in his written statement.

Tan Sri Ismee Ismail, 54, insisted that in his mind, the word “government” referred to the former prime minister.

On June 10, the High Court heard Ismee’s written statement where he said he had once raised the issue of SRC’s governance with ex-chief executive officer Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, who would always reply that the matters had been discussed and agreed to by the “government”.

“In my opinion, the ‘government’ Nik Faisal was referring to was Najib,” Ismee said in the statement.

During cross-examination by Najib’s lawyer Harvinderjit Singh here yesterday, the latter argued that a prime minister could not be the government as it involved an entire machinery.

He suggested that in August 2011, Nik Faisal said SRC matters were facilitated by the Finance Ministry (MOF), Economic Planning Unit (EPU) and Minister of Finance Incor­porated (MOF Inc).

Harvinderjit: If Nik Faisal says these are all decided by the government, you would agree that he suggested that it was not decided by Najib, but decided at the government level by either MOF, EPU, or MOF Inc.

Ismee: We know the government is the prime minister. There were visions and aspirations.

Harvinderjit: Yes, when we talk about vision, it is the vision of the prime minister. If we talk about aspirations, it is the aspirations of the prime minister.

But it cannot be that the government is

the prime minister because the government is not the prime minister. Those decisions should go through the whole machinery.

Ismee: As far as I am concerned, it was the prime minister. When the word “government” was mentioned, in our minds (the board) we understood that it referred to the prime minister.

Earlier, the court also heard how the management of SRC International might have hoodwinked the company’s board of directors.

The court was told that SRC International director Datuk Suboh Md Yassin may have been complicit with Nik Faisal in not informing the board of directors that RM140mil was invested in an alleged mining venture in South America.

To a suggestion by Harvinder, Ismee agreed that the board of directors was not told about Gandingan Mentari Sdn Bhd’s deal with Putra Perdana Construction to invest in the alleged mining venture.

Ismee was shown a document on an RM140mil transfer – from SRC International to its subsidiary Gandingan Mentari – which was signed off by Suboh.

Harvinderjit: Committing to RM140mil in investments was something Suboh never told the board?

Ismee: (He) never told me.

Harvinderjit: It seems as if Suboh was complicit (in this) with Nik Faisal?

Ismee: Yes.

The court heard that the deal was inked to give a 70/30 share of the profit to Gandingan Mentari and Putra Perdana.

Ismee also agreed that many executives in SRC International’s management team were close associates of fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low.

Harvinderjit: From what you know now, people such as Nik Faisal, (SRC International director) Jerome Lee and (1MDB finance director) Terrance Geh – they were close associates of Jho Low?

Ismee: Yes.

Najib is facing seven charges involving RM42mil in funds belonging to SRC Inter­national, formerly a subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

On July 4 last year, Najib claimed trial to a charge of abuse of power and three counts of criminal breach of trust linked to the 1MDB scandal.

He allegedly misappropriated the RM42mil.On Aug 8 last year, he was charged with three counts of money laundering involving the same RM42mil.

The hearing continues before Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali today.


   

Across The Star Online