SRC International directors were appointed to follow Najib's orders, says witness


KUALA LUMPUR: The board of directors at SRC International Sdn Bhd was appointed to execute the wishes of the company's shareholder, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the High Court was told.

SRC International's former director Tan Sri Ismee Ismail, 59, testified that it was typical for a newly established company's board of directors (BOD) to be given a 'blank slate' to run their operations, allowing them to use their expertise and opinions to decide the company's direction and determine which government-to-government endeavours to pursue.

However, according to the witness, this was not the case with SRC International's BOD.

"The point I'm trying to say here is when we were appointed to this newly incorporated entity called SRC, we didn't get a piece of blank paper, saying 'board members, you tell us what to do with this company'. That is not the scenario.

"In SRC, once you are appointed as a board member, you are told that these are the directions or wishes of the shareholder for the management to execute with the support from the BOD," Ismee said on Thursday (June 6).

Najib, who was the prime minister and the finance minister at the time, was also SRC International’s sole shareholder by way of the Finance Minister (Incorporated).

Ismee, a third-party respondent, was under cross-examination by Najib's lawyer Muhammad Farhan Muhammad Shafee in a US$1.18bil lawsuit the company filed against Najib and SRC's former CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil.

To another question, Ismee recalled an incident where he became upset at Nik Faisal, who is currently at large, when he discovered the company did not file and submit SRC International accounts for the financial year 2013, which ended on 31 March, to the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM), which was due in September 2012.

According to Ismee, a news article was published in The Edge, dated May 5, 2014, entitled 'SRC yet to file accounts or seek extension'.

"When I discovered the article, I told Nik Faisal you should write a nasty reply to The Edge to rebut their article.

"However, Nik Faisal told me it was true SRC had yet to file the account. At this point, I shouted at him, and this is where I took my own personal effort to ensure the account was closed," he said.

Ismee added that Nik Faisal had falsely assured him that "everything was good".

"Kita tak sangka Nik Faisal penipu (We didn't know Nik Faisal was a cheat)," said Ismee.

Under new management, SRC filed the legal action in May 2021, alleging that Najib had committed breach of trust, abuse of power, misappropriated the company's funds, and personally benefited from it.

It named Najib along with its former directors Datuk Suboh Md Yassin, Mohammed Azhar, Nik Faisal, Datuk Che Abdullah @ Rashidi Che Omar, Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, and Ismee in May 2021.

Later, it removed six names, including Ismee, from the suit and retained Najib and Nik Faisal as the first and second defendants.

Additionally, Najib has brought the former named SRC International directors as third-party respondents in the suit.

The company was seeking damages, interest, costs, and a court declaration that Najib was responsible for the company’s losses due to his breach of duties and trust, and is demanding that Najib pay back the US$1.18bil in losses that it had suffered.

It was also seeking US$120mil and US$2mil from Najib and Nik Faisal, respectively, on account of fraudulent breach of fiduciary duties and breach of trust.

The hearing before Justice Ahmad Fairuz Zainol Abidin continues on June 10.

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