Najib's former aide paid RM24,000 salary for digital communications work

KUALA LUMPUR: A former aide to Datuk Seri Najib Razak testified at the High Court here that she was paid RM24,000 every month to plan and execute his digital communications at the Prime Minister's Office.

In her testimony on Wednesday (Aug 28), Noorhaina Hirawani Mohd Noor said she was seconded from Orb Solutions Sdn Bhd, a company she co-founded and was CEO of, from August 2013 to October 2014.

She added that her privileges, salary and allowances were paid by Orb Solutions and was not subject to any salary from the government during her tenure as Najib's digital press secretary.

Orb Solutions was set up in 2010, and served as a digital agency for Najib and to manage his personal online communications and online assets.

Najib was the firm's sole client.

During cross-examination by lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, Noorhaina told the court that Orb Solutions received an RM2mil cheque from Najib.

Sri Ram: What is the purpose of this payment?

Noorhaina: I can't say specifically but typically payments are for day-to-day operations, utilities, salary, rental and other activities that we may conduct in discharging our services as a digital agency.

Sri Ram: I'm speaking specifically of this payment.

Noorhaina: I can't say specifically. I don't have the records.

Sri Ram: Generally speaking, typically payments were made?

Noorhaina: Yes.

Sri Ram: Is this a typical payment?

Noorhaina: In what sense?

Sri Ram: In the sense you said just now.

Noorhaina: Typically, yes.

Under later questioning by Najib's lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Noorhaina told the court that the Prime Minister's Office engaged her services due to the reduced Barisan Nasional majority in the 2008 General Elections.

"The competition used the online sphere more effectively than the government, and the government also looked at social media and online communications with a lot of suspicion and distrust," said Noorhaina.

She added that this distrust and suspicion led the government to believe that such communication had to be done externally and in a personal capacity.

Noorhaina was one of the four witnesses cross-examined on Wednesday, with the other three confirming Najib's Cabinet appointments and monthly remuneration.

High Court judge Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah adjourned the trial at 1.45pm and ordered for it to resume at 9.30am on Thursday (Aug 29).

Najib is facing four charges of having used his position to obtain gratification, totalling RM2.3bil from 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same money.

He faces imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine of up to five times the sum or value of the gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, if found guilty.

The Pekan MP is alleged to have committed the offences at AmIslamic Bank Bhd, No 55, Jalan Raja Chulan, Bukit Ceylon here, between 2011 and 2014.

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