KUALA LUMPUR: A key witness in the SRC International Sdn Bhd trial told the High Court he fled to Bangkok in 2015 out of fear over the scandal that had befallen the subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
Former SRC director Datuk Suboh Md Yassin (pic), 68, said prior to fleeing to Bangkok, he contacted the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to explain about SRC which was under investigation by the commission.
However, before he had a chance to do so, Suboh received a phone call from someone who claimed to be an MACC representative.
“The caller told me not to go to MACC’s office as I had promised and ordered me to leave Malaysia.
“I was fearful of what was happening and because Datuk Seri Najib Razak was in power as the prime minister at that time, I did not know what would happen to me or my family.
“So I made the decision to run away to Bangkok with my wife for a month,” he said, adding that he paid for his own expenses.
The witness gave his explosive testimony under examination-in-chief by Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Ishak Mohd Yusoff at Najib’s corruption trial involving the misappropriation of RM42mil in SRC funds here yesterday.
Ishak: Why were you afraid of the prime minister? Was there any threat?
Suboh: At that time, Nik Faisal (former SRC chief executive officer Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil) called me. He told me about SRC involving Najib and advised me: ‘You go away.’ I was in a dilemma (serba salah) and ran to Bangkok.
While in Bangkok, Suboh met a Thai man who handed flight tickets for him and his wife to Abu Dhabi, where they stayed for about a week.
“The flight and accommodation were arranged but I did not know who footed the bill,” he said.
Suboh said after about a week, he boarded a flight back to Bangkok and subsequently to Malaysia.
“After I returned, I was contacted by Nik Faisal who ordered me to run away again from Malaysia to avoid investigation by the authorities.
“However, I decided not to run and remain in Malaysia to assist the investigation,” he said.
To a question, Suboh clarified that the second call with Nik Faisal took place after the general election last year.
The witness, whose testimony has been highly anticipated, appeared frail and walked into the courtroom with a walking stick.
At one point, Ishak asked Suboh about his well-being.
“I am not well,” Suboh answered.
He underwent a heart bypass surgery in December 2012 and suffered a stroke in June 2017.
“Sabar ya Datuk (please be patient), you have to answer questions,” Ishak said.
The witness also testified about how every decision by the board of directors must have the advice from SRC’s adviser emeritus, which was Najib.
Suboh recalled that any matters which required Najib’s attention would be brought to the Pekan MP by Nik Faisal.
“Nik Faisal acted as the link between the board and Najib. Any reporting on discussions or decisions pertaining to SRC will be done by Nik Faisal to Najib,” he said.
Suboh also spoke about how SRC had broken compliance in its operations relating to corporate social responsibility involving a RM250mil grant to help flood victims in the east coast.
He said Nik Faisal had suggested for SRC to help the flood victims and a grant of RM250mil was subsequently approved by the board of directors.
“The board discussed it and agreed to hasten the process so the money could be used to help flood victims immediately,” he said.
However, Suboh said it was in his opinion that as the grant involved a huge amount, it should have gone through the existing procedure of getting a written approval through the board’s resolution first.
“I raised the issue about the company’s regulation and other issues pertaining to compliance as the grant would involve SRC’s funds.
“Nik Faisal said ‘it will be taken care of’ and this matter was approved by ‘pihak atas’ (higher ups),” he said.
Suboh said he had thought that the superior in question was Najib, who was the adviser emeritus of SRC.
“Therefore, I kept quiet and the matter was never raised,” he added.
Suboh is expected to continue his testimony before Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali on July 1.
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 RM42mil in funds belonging to SRC International.
On Aug 8 last year, he was charged with three counts of money laundering involving the same RM42mil.