KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Razak today defended his credit card spending, which he claimed had been sensationalised, during his ongoing trial.
The former prime minister said whatever he spent had actually been done in the best interest of the country even though he used his own money to do so.
Detailing his expenditure as reflected in his credit card statements which had been revealed during the course of the ongoing SRC International Bhd trial in which he was accused of misappropriating RM42 million of the company funds, Najib admitted he spent over RM3 million at a famous Italian jeweller in Sardinia in August 2014.
"Yes, I did spend RM3,282,734.16 (EU763,500.00) at the famous De Grisogono store in Sardinia, Italy on Aug 8, 2014.
"I had to do it...I had bumped into Sheikh Ahmed Jassim Al Thani while holidaying there. He is a renowned businessman, politician and a member of the Qatari royal family. The Sheikh was also the prime minister of Qatar at that time," he said.
Najib said he spent the money buying gifts for Sheikh Ahmad's wife on the realisation that Qatar had strong diplomatic ties with Malaysia which was especially beneficial to us.
He added that Sheikh Ahmad and his wife, Noor Abdulaziz Abdulla Turki Al-Subaie had also presented gifts to him and his wife during their official trips to Malaysia.
"It was on this basis that I had to reciprocate their generosity with nothing less than what they had shown us all this while," he said, adding that he paid for the gift from his own pocket with his credit card as he did not want to use public funds for that purpose.
Najib said the Qatari government had sent a thank you note to him and his wife shortly after they returned to Malaysia from their holiday.
The note, he said, was signed off by Noor Abdulaziz.
Asked if he had the right to use funds in his private account to buy the gift, Najib said as far as he was concerned he had absolute discretion to use the money for whatever purposes he deemed fit.
"As far as I was concerned the purchase of the gift was something which is acceptable as far as diplomatic relations are concerned."
On his other two major expenditures which had been raised during the trial, namely the US130,625.00 (RM466,330.11) at the Chanel store in Honolulu on Dec 22, 2014, and RM127,017.46 at the Shangri-La Hotel in Bangkok in January 2015, Najib said he had shopped at the Chanel store to buy an anniversary gift for his wife.
"I bought her a watch from the store.
"As for the expenses in Bangkok, I had gone there to continue my holidays after I was forced to return home to visit flood victims in Kota Baru. Even though I was on holiday, I took the opportunity to meet with my Thai counterpart, Prayut Chan-o-Cha to discuss how the Thais could help us with the flood situation in our country," he said.
Najib said he spent RM120,000 at the hotel to cover miscellaneous expenses and room charges for himself and his entourage.
"I could have claimed it all back as I had also carried out official duties during my stay in Bangkok but I never did," he said.
Najib said he had been very careful with how he spent money in his accounts and noted that only 0.4 per cent of the total sum which he received was forked out on his personal expenses.
The trial before High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali continues.