Former SRC director tells court he trusted Najib's directives

KUALA LUMPUR: A former director of SRC International Sdn Bhd has told the High Court that he could not have objected to instructions from Datuk Seri Najib Razak as he believed Najib's directives were meant for the betterment of the country and the company.

Tan Sri Ismee Ismail, 59, said he believed the former prime minister, who was the sole shareholder and yielded significant authority in the company, was acting in the best interests of SRC.

"There was no reason to suspect that Datuk Seri Najib was not acting in the best interest of SRC," Ismee said.

The witness was under cross-examination by lawyer Chong Yik Loong, who represented one of the third-party respondents, former SRC International CEO Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi.

Ismee is also a third-party respondent in SRC International’s US$1.18bil (RM5.57bil) lawsuit against Najib and another former CEO, Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, who is currently at large.

Regarding the RM4bil loan facility from the Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) obtained by SRC, Ismee said it was approved before he assumed his position in the company.

"I believed to a certain degree that proper due diligence had been done because it is not easy to get a government guarantee (in order to apply for the loan). I was with Danaharta before; I know how hard it is to get a government guarantee.

"I only knew about this (that the loan was approved) during the first SRC board meeting. I guess it was a pleasant surprise," he said.

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 Osman Khairuddin, Nik Faisal, Datuk Che Abdullah @ Rashidi Che Omar, Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, and Ismee in May 2021.

However, 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 SRC International directors as third-party respondents in the suit.

The company is seeking damages, interests, costs, and a court declaration that Najib is responsible for the company’s losses due to his breach of duties and trust. It is demanding that Najib pay back the US$1.18bil (RM5.47bil) in losses that it has suffered.

It is also seeking US$120mil (RM566.31mil) and US$2mil (RM9.44mil) 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 13.

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