‘M’sia sought Saudi donations’

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia had sought a donation from Saudi Arabia, whose then king transferred the funds directly to Datuk Seri Najib’s bank account, the High Court heard.

Former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom made the revelation at the High Court during a cross-examination by lead prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram at the SRC International Sdn Bhd trial here yesterday.

Sithambaram: Did we, through the prime minister then, ask for a donation from Saudi or did Saudi offer the donation to us?

Jamil Khir: What we know is that it was an application.

The witness, however, said the matter was not discussed at the Cabinet level.

Sithambaram: Do you know why an important matter, such as the prime minister asking for help from a foreign country, was not discussed at the Cabinet?

Jamil Khir: As far as I know there was none.

Sithambaram repeated his question and Jamil Khir replied he was unsure why a discussion was not held.

This prompted Sithambaram to say that if the matter was indeed discussed at the Cabinet, as a minister, Jamil Khir should have remembered it.

“That is why I said I am unsure, ” Jamil Khir replied.

Sithambaram: But I’m saying you should have remembered this.

Jamil Khir: I am not sure.

Sithambaram: Was the public informed that Saudi Arabia gave a donation to Najib to win the 2013 general election?

Jamil Khir: As far as I remember, no.

The prosecution then suggested that a financial donation from Saudi would have meant foreign interference in a democratic election, but the witness disagreed.

Sithambaram: But this (the donation) was hidden from the rakyat?

Jamil Khir: Yes.

During a re-examination by Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Jamil Khir said the monetary contribution from Saudi was considered a personal contribution.

“I assume a personal contribution is allowed within the legal provisions of the country. Maybe that is why it was not discussed, ” he added.

Earlier, Jamil Khir, who was reading his witness statement, said the late King Abdullah Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia directly transferred the funds to Najib’s personal bank account to avoid complications.

According to him, King Abdullah spoke about his contribution to Najib during a private chat after an informal meeting with the Malaysian delegates to Riyadh on Jan 11,2010.

The informal meeting was held before Najib’s official visit between Jan 13 and 16,2010.

Following the informal meeting, Jamil Khir said he was signalled

by Najib to go with him for a private chat with King Abdullah and the Saudi translator on the royal’s financial pledge. “There were several reasons why the King wanted to help Najib. He wanted Najib to maintain Malaysia’s stability as a moderate Muslim country and with this, Najib must strengthen his position and power as the prime minister during the upcoming general election in 2013.

“Secondly, it was to curb the influence of Syiah and eradicate religious extremism that was becoming commonplace in Malaysia, ” he added.

Jamil Khir said King Abdullah mentioned that he would send his contribution and that it would

be channelled to Najib’s private account.

“I understood that it needed to be channelled to Najib’s private account to make it easy and smooth for Najib’s political journey.

“The King was also concerned that if the funds were channelled into any political organisations, it would complicate the way the funds were spent, ” he said.

Najib is facing seven charges –three for criminal breach of trust, one for abuse of power and three for money laundering involving SRC International funds totalling RM42mil.

The hearing before Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali resumes tomorrow.

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