Cabinet agreed not to announce alleged ‘Arab donation’, court hears

Najib said donor asked for donation not to be announced, witness testifies in 1MDB trial.

1MDB TRIAL | The cabinet in 2010 agreed with then-premier Najib Abdul Razak’s suggestion to keep under wraps the alleged Arab donation to the 1MDB foundation, the Kuala Lumpur High Court heard today.

Former cabinet deputy chief secretary Mazidah Abdul Majid (above) testified that the cabinet agreed to this after Najib informed them that Arab royalty agreed to make the donation.

Mazidah, the 11th prosecution witness, was testifying during the RM2.28 billion 1MDB corruption trial of Najib this afternoon.

Previously during the trial on Sept 27, 2019, the prosecution produced four cheques, allegedly issued by members of the Arab royal family to Yayasan 1MDB, dated 2010 and for US$25 million each but never cashed.

The prosecution then had contended that the cheques, allegedly issued by Prince Saud Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Prince Faisal Turki and purportedly handed to fugitive financier Low Taek Jho or Jho Low, could have been utilised to hide the source of the over RM2 billion worth of funds allegedly discovered in the former prime minister’s account.

The ninth prosecution witness, former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, had testified then that he received the cheques from Low for safekeeping.

During today’s trial, Mazidah read out from a prepared written witness statement regarding the cabinet meeting chaired by Najib on Sept 8, 2010.

She told the court that Najib told the cabinet he held formal and informal engagements with various parties from the Middle East and received positive response on matters involving Malaysia’s interests.

Mazidah testified that Najib told the cabinet Saudi Crown Prince Sultan Abdul Aziz Al-Saud indicated he agreed to hand over a donation to Yayasan 1MDB.

“The first donation had been received and they (purported crown prince) has promised to give more donations after this.

“Sultan Abdul Aziz Al-Saud had asked for this donation to not be announced (to the public),” Mazidah said on what Najib purportedly told the cabinet then.

The witness added that the cabinet then agreed with Najib “so that the donation from the Arab Saudi government would not be announced”.

After she read her 32-page witness statement during examination-in-chief by the prosecution, lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah informed the court they needed time to prepare questions for cross-examination of the witness.

Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah then adjourned proceedings this afternoon and fixed for the trial to resume around 9.15am tomorrow morning.

The defence tomorrow is set to cross-examine Mazidah over her testimony.

Najib is on trial for four counts of abuse of power and 21 counts of money laundering involving RM2.28 billion of 1MDB’s funds.

Besides being former prime minister, Najib was also the finance minister and chairperson of 1MDB’s board of advisors.

Troubled sovereign wealth fund 1MDB is a fully-owned subsidiary of the Minister of Finance Incorporated.

Earlier today, 10th prosecution witness and former 1MDB CEO, Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman, was initially supposed to resume being cross-examined by Najib’s defence team.

However, Hazem was unable to attend proceedings earlier this morning due to having a fever. Sequerah then directed the prosecution for the witness to undergo a swab test for Covid-19.

By : HIDIR REDUAN ABDUL RASHID – MALAYSIAKINI

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