Najib's conflict of interest over 1MDB never raised in Cabinet meetings, court told

KUALA LUMPUR: A conflict of interest for Datuk Seri Najib Razak over 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) was never raised in Cabinet meetings although he chaired discussions involving the sovereign wealth fund, the High Court here heard.

Former deputy chief secretary to the Cabinet Tan Sri Mazidah Abdul Majid, who was testifying in the 1MDB trial here on Thursday (Feb 11), agreed to the suggestion by lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah that nobody had spoken up about Najib's presence in meetings that discussed 1MDB matters.

Shafee had referred the witness to the Code of Ethics for Members of Administration and Members of Parliament where it stated that Cabinet members who have a personal interest in matters which are of conflict with the government interest, especially if it involves a family member, must leave the meeting and the absence shall be recorded.

Shafee: Nobody says he has a conflict of interest (in these meetings)?

Mazidah: Yes, nobody.

Shafee: The deputy prime minister was Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.... Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah was the former finance minister II... they, in particular, never raised this subject of conflict of interest?

Mazidah: Yes (they never).

The witness said if the matter was raised, it would have been recorded in the meeting minutes.

Mazidah said it was common for Cabinet ministers to announce if they had a conflict of interest before the related papers were discussed in the meetings.

In cases where they were not aware, the secretariat would then alert the ministers.

Shafee: In the case of Najib vis-a-vis 1MDB, has there been a situation where it has been raised that he cannot be in the meetings because of his position in the company?

Mazidah: No, not that I remember.

Shafee: Najib sat on 1MDB (as the chairman of board of advisors), he was also the finance minister, he was also the prime minister. All these official positions. Has there been anybody who said this can be a conflict of interest?

Mazidah: Not to my knowledge.

During re-examination by Deputy Public Prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib, Mazidah was asked if she knew Najib had personal interest in 1MDB as he was the chairman of the company then.

"No, I didn't know," Mazidah said.

She also said she did not know if Najib had received money from 1MDB.

Akram: If he had personally received monies from 1MDB, would this be a personal conflict of interest?

Mazidah: My personal opinion would be yes, but I would suggest you get the opinion from the Attorney General.

Najib, 68, is facing four charges of abusing his position to obtain gratification totalling RM2.28bil in 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same money.

The hearing before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues on Feb 15.

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