KUALA LUMPUR: A Finance Ministry (MoF) staff today revealed how SRC International Sdn Bhd top management brushed off her enquiries about the company by saying they only answered to the prime minister.
Afidah Azwa Abdul Aziz said she worked "under duress" when she was asked to handle the SRC International case.
The 44-year old deputy secretary of the strategic investment division in MoF said she had complained about it to her immediate superior, Maliami Hamad, but it all fell on deaf ears.
Instead she said Maliami told her that there was nothing anyone could do as it was "arahan orang atasan" (directive from higher ups).
“My boss also told me that this (SRC International) was the prime minister’s company,” Afidah, who was testifying in the corruption trial of Datuk Seri Najib Razak, said.
Najib is accused of misappropriating RM42 million of SRC International funds.
Afidah’s remark that SRC International was "the prime minister’s company" immediately drew protests from Najib’s lawyer, Datuk Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden.
Afidah’s remark that SRC International was ‘the Prime Minister’s company’ was made when she was being re-examined by Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Suhaimi Ibrahim.
Suhaimi had asked her to explain who she meant by saying that it was a directive from the "higher ups."
His question on why she had been asked to expedite the drafting of the memorandum eventually led her to say it was because SRC International was the prime minister's company.
However, her answer immediately drew protests from Najib’s lawyer, Datuk Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden.
He protested that Afidah’s remark was mere hearsay and should not be accepted.
However, deputy public prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram shot down the argument by saying that the witness was just revealing what her superior had told her.
He said the prosecution will eventually call Maliami to testify and the matter can then be verified.
Sithambaram also accused the defence of deliberately objecting whenever evidence was adduced against their client.
“This is deliberately done when evidence is against them. They stand up and object,” he said before judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali said he would accept the answer given by Afidah.
Earlier, during cross examination by Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Afidah stood her ground and said the manner SRC International managed to get two government guarantees for its RM4 billion loan from the Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) was highly irregular.
She said SRC International representatives, namely its chief executive officer Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil and another individual by the name of Zahid Taib along with two others had turned up at the MoF office on Aug 15, 2011, before she was immediately ordered to prepare a memorandum on their loan intentions and the guarantee letter.
“I was rushed to prepare the memorandum even though I only had minimum information about the company.
“I was pressured to prepare the memorandum and given just a few hours to do so,” she said.
Afidah yesterday testified that apart from being given the government guarantees for the two loans in an abnormally quick fashion, SRC International also managed to get additional RM650 million short term loan from the government after it defaulted on repaying KWAP.
Asked by Shafee if she had escalated her concerns to Maliami when she was rushed to prepare the memorandum and had to work under duress, Afidah replied that she had done so.
Shafee: Were you suspicious on why you were being pressured to prepare the memorandum immediately?
Afidah: Yes, I felt suspicious.
Shafee: What were you suspicious about?
Afidah: Why I was being told to rush it.
Shafee: Did you question your boss about it?
Afidah: Yes, he told me that this was the directive from the higher ups.
Shafee: Did you make a written complain?
Later, during re-examination by Sithambaram, Afidah confirmed that the cabinet did not know about the RM250 million and RM300 million which had been given to SRC International to settle its outstanding payments to KWAP.
She said it was all approved by Najib.
Najib, 66, is facing seven charges of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money-laundering involving RM42 million of SRC International funds.
The Pekan MP was charged with committing the offences between Aug 17, 2011 and Feb 10, 2015.
He faces 20 years’ jail and fine for the offences.