KUALA LUMPUR: Former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak was advised on the risks of 1Malaysia Development Berhad's (1MDB) plans to invest in a joint venture with PetroSaudi International Ltd, the High Court was told.
"Husni, I don’t want you to get involved and interfere about (sic) 1MDB,” said former second finance minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah, 70, when testifying here.
Ahmad Husni said he had voiced his concerns at the end of 2009 after learning from a Finance Ministry official that 1MDB had made a joint venture investment with the oil services and production company.
"I went to see Datuk Seri Najib in his office and told him that 1MDB should not enter a joint venture with Petrosaudi as the company was still in the process of oil exploration...and if oil is not discovered, then the investment would be ‘burnt’.
"I also told the PM (Najib) that 1MDB has no experience in the oil exploration field and it should be left to Petronas. But since he responded in that way, I kept quiet from then on,” he said when reading his witness statement in Najib’s trial over the misappropriation of RM2.3bil funds from 1MDB.
The 20th prosecution witness confirmed that the meeting took place only between the two of them at Najib's office and since then, he was not directly involved in any decision or was informed of 1MDB's investments.
Earlier, Ahmad Husni testified that in mid-2009, he advised on the risks of setting up 1MDB when he learned that the government had decided to take over the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) and renamed it as 1MDB.
"I met Datuk Seri Najib in his office to tell him that 1MDB should not be established without a feasibility study done. The purpose of the feasibility study is to make a practical assessment of a project proposal as well as risks in terms of business and finance.
"This study is very important to ensure that 1MDB's investment will bring profit to the government. However, when I told the PM about the risk, he simply replied: ‘I will go ahead’. So I did not say anything else,” Ahmad Husni said.
Ahmad Husni also said that in early 2015, Najib had called him to resolve problems faced by 1MDB which was said to be heavily laden with debts, but he (Ahmad Husni) did not agree to it as he had never been involved in the company's affairs.
"When Datuk Seri Najib continued to urge me to carry out the task, I met with (former) minister in the prime minister's department Datuk Seri Wahid Omar so that he could take over (the task) but Wahid also did not agree to it,” he said.
According to Ahmad Husni, together with his senior private secretary Imran Yasin Mohd Yusof, they drew up a plan called the “1MDB rationalisation plan” and among his main tasks is to obtain information related to 1MDB, its financial position, assets, debts and matters related to company investments.
"Our role was only to draw up a plan but implementation was under the responsibility of 1MDB's management and I was not directly involved.
"Based on financial statements that I obtained, I found that 1MDB's debt on May 20, 2015 was RM48.571bil while the company's assets stood at RM49.895bil," he said.
Najib, 68, is facing four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3bil from 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.
The trial before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues tomorrow. - Bernama