KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s conflict of interest over 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) was never raised in Cabinet meetings despite him chairing discussions involving the sovereign wealth fund, the High Court here has been told.
Former deputy chief secretary to the Cabinet Tan Sri Mazidah Abdul Majid, who was testifying in the 1MDB trial yesterday, agreed to the suggestion by lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah that nobody had voiced out any concern about Najib’s presence in the meetings discussing 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 personal interest in matters which are of conflict with government interest, especially if it involves a family member, must leave the meeting and the absence shall be recorded.
Shafee: Nobody said 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 finance minister II... they, in particular, never raised this subject of conflict of interest?
Mazidah: Yes (they never).
The witness said if the matter had been raised, it would have been recorded in the minutes of the meetings.
Mazidah said it was common for Cabinet ministers to announce if they did have any conflict of interest before the related papers were discussed in meetings.
In cases where they were not aware, the secretariat then would alert the ministers.
Shafee: In the case of Najib vis-a-vis 1MDB, was there a situation where it was 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 the board of advisers), he was also the finance minister, he was also the prime minister. All these official positions. Was there 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 a personal interest in 1MDB as he was the chairman of the company then.
“No, I didn’t know, ” she replied, adding that she did not know if Najib had received money from 1MDB.
Ahmad 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 of 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 next Monday.