Crime & Courts

Najib portrayed as 'grand chess master', ex-SRC director tells court

KUALA LUMPUR: Former SRC International Sdn Bhd director Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi told the High Court today that he had been misled by Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil on the true nature and purpose of the RM4 billion fund from the Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) loan.

Shahrol said at that material time, he trusted Najib, who is former prime minister and SRC emeritus adviser and former chief executive officer Nik Faisal, who had informed him that SRC was established to carry out strategic investment for the interests of Malaysia.

Najib was SRC's emeritus adviser from May 1, 2012, until March 4, 2019.

"Bear in mind Najib was then the prime minister and finance minister of Malaysia. I was also informed that for the purpose of such projects, SRC would require a lot of funds and hence, the need to apply to KWAP for a loan.

"After the loan was approved and disbursed by KWAP, Nik Faisal informed me that SRC was inter alia working on two big coal mines investment in Indonesia and Mongolia and it was necessary to remit the KWAP loan as soon as possible in order not to miss out on good investment opportunities.

"Najib and Nik Faisal made false and misleading representations to the SRC directors, including me, regarding the true nature and purpose for the disbursements of the RM4 billion fund from KWAP loan," he said in his witness statement before judge Datuk Ahmad Fairuz Zainol Abidin.

Shahrol was testifying as the fourth person named in the list of third-party respondents in the US$1.18 billion SRC International civil suit against Najib.

Shahrol said at the material time, there was no reasonable ground for him to suspect that anything dubious or questionable was going on in SRC.

"To the best of my recollection, I remember telling Nik Faisal in respect of the disbursement of the KWAP loan that in view of the colossal sums involved, the relevant investment projects which he mentioned should be carried out as soon as possible," he added.

He denied Najib's allegation that he was guilty of acts, omissions, wrongdoings, breaches of duties and conduct which constitute the effective and actual cause of any purported loss and damage claimed to be suffered by the SRC.

"In view of the absolute power and control exercised by Najib over the SRC, I reiterate that my duty and role as a director only exists in name and could not be exercised by me in reality," he said.

On June 7, 2018, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission said it was hunting for Nik Faisal as well as Low Taek Jho to be investigated in the SRC scandal.

In 2020, police sought Interpol's help to extradite Nik Faisal who was hiding in Hong Kong with his wife and child.

Meanwhile, Shahrol described Najib as having the style of a "grand chess master" who "moved things around on the board" when it came to facilitating projects for SRC as well as 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

He cited an example in relation to SRC when uranium was put into its mandate and around 2010, there was already a plan to diversify electricity sources.

"Sure enough, a separate company called the Malaysian Power Nuclear Corporation was set up around that year to kickstart the nuclear programme in Malaysia and transformed into Nuclear Energy Plan Implementation directly under the prime minister's department.

"So these were all the 'moving pieces'. And even in my experience within 1MDB, we noticed that when we are mandated to execute a project, there would be other 'chess pieces' that were also moving to complement or synergise with what we were doing," he answered to a question from defence counsel Muhammad Farhan Shafee.

Shahrol disagreed with Farhan who had put it to him that Najib did not have a freehand in the appointment and removal of any SRC director.

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