KUALA LUMPUR: The owner of a company which was awarded a RM1.25 billion contract to supply hybrid solar energy to schools in Sarawak today laid bare how he had to grease numerous palms, including that of Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, to secure the deal.
Saidi Abang Samsudin, who is the managing director of Jepak Holdings Bhd, also revealed how he moved cash to the tune of RM5 million after withdrawing it from his bank to be given to Rosmah accompanied by Special Action Unit (UTK) personnel as protection.
The 61-year-old prosecution witness said the payment, along with another RM1.5 million, was given to Rosmah under the guise of a political donation for Umno.
The businessman, who is a member of the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu, gave details how his company came up with a proposal to supply solar hybrid energy to schools in the interior of Sarawak sometime in 2015.
Reading from a witness statement, Saidi said at that time his company was already supplying diesel generator sets (gensets) to about 28 schools in Daro, Mukah and Baram in Sarawak.
Saidi said in 2015, his long time friend Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid had been appointed Education Minister and Jepak Holdings decided to propose the ministry to replace the gensets with solar hybrid energy.
However, he said Mahdzir was sceptical of the company’s ability to implement the project and this forced him and his business partner, Rayyan Radzwill Abdullah, to rope in someone more influential to secure the project.
“I decided we should approach Datuk Seri Najib Razak who was Prime Minister (PM) at that time to help us.
“However, we needed to go through his wife to get to him. To do this, I got in touch with her personal aide, Datuk Rizal Mansor,” he said, adding others Jepak Holdings approached to secure the project included Pekan Umno secretary Datuk Aazmey Abu Talib.
He revealed Aazmey was instrumental in getting Najib to sign off on Jepak Holdings proposal, noting the then PM had minuted a support letter by writing: YB Datuk Sri Mahadzir Khalid Bersetuju dilaksanakan sistem baru ini dan batalkan sistem lama (I agree this new system is implemented and the old one cancelled).
However, Saidi said despite Najib’s support, Mahdzir still wanted a technical evaluation to be conducted by the ministry and other due diligence to be done before proceeding with the project.
“I was not happy because Mahdzir’s action was not in line with what the PM had directed.
“However, Mahdzir told me he had to follow the procedures..I had no choice but to accept his explanation as he was the Minister at that time.”
Saidi said after the meeting, he suggested to Rayyan that they should approach Rosmah.
He said they subsequently met Rizal in January 2016 at the Sri Pan Pacific Hotel in 2016 and briefed the latter about what had happened and the problems they were facing.
“I sought his help to get ma’am (Rosmah) to push for the Letter of Approval (LOA) to be issued to Jepak Holdings.
“He promised to arrange for us to meet Rosmah and this meeting took place at her house in January or February of 2016. During the meeting I pledged to give 10 per cent or RM125 million as a political donation to her,” he said.
Saidi said Rosmah responded by saying that Umno was facing hard times then and really needed political funds.
Rosmah, he said, later told him to discuss the matter further with Rizal and also instructed the latter to arrange for a meeting between Saidi, Rayyan and property tycoon Tan Sri Desmond Lim – who is the owner of Pavilion Residence.
Saidi said a few days after that Rizal informed him that Rosmah was insisting on getting a 15 per cent cut (RM187.5 million) from the total project value.
“I had no choice but to agree to this and we sealed the arrangement in June 2016. I also offered Rizal his cut of RM20 million.
“After that we were taken to meet Desmond and he directed us to deal with his worker by the name of Lawrence. “Lawrence advised us that we needed to legalise the payment of the political funds which had been promised to Rosmah by terming it as a consultancy fee.”
Saidi said after getting all the necessary approvals, he had to take a loan of RM16 million to kickstart the project and also use RM5 million to pay Rosmah for all the assistance she had rendered.
“On December 20, 2016, Rizal told me to withdraw RM5 million and take the money to Pavilion and hand it to Lawrence. He also arranged for two UTK officers to accompany me as I was afraid to carry that much cash alone.
“I asked Lawrence to issue me a receipt after giving him the money but he did not do so. Shortly after that Rizal called someone and he later told me he needed to take the bags of money and hand them over to Rosmah,” he said, adding Rizal also demanded that his cut be increased from RM20 million to RM25 million.
Saidi said Jepak Holdings eventually obtained the first payment of RM63 million from the government to start the project and he subsequently delivered another two bags filled with RM1.5 million cash to Rosmah’s house directly.
This, he said, happened on Sept 7, 2017
Meanwhile, when questioned by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Idham Abd Ghani if Rosmah had ever complained of not getting the RM5 million, Saidi replied in the negative.
To another question from lead senior DPP Datuk Seri Gopal Seri Ram if Rosmah had ever protested when she was offered the political donation, Saidi said the former prime minister’s wife just smiled and told Rizal to arrange everything.
Asked if he had ever received any receipt for the so called political donation for Umno, Saidi replied in the negative.
Sri Ram: When you took the two bags with RM1.5 million to her house did she ask you to get out?
Saidi: No, she just said ‘hmmmm’
Saidi will be cross-examined by Rosmah’s lawyers tomorrow.
Rosmah, 69, is on trial for soliciting RM187.5 million from Jepak Holdings to help the company secure the solar hybrid project.
She is also accused of receiving RM5 million and another RM1.5 million in 2016 and 2017 respectively to ensure the company got the project.
The trial is being held before High Court Judge Mohamad Zaini Mazlan.
By Sharanjit Singh – NST