KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Razak was today forced to answer some awkward questions on the performance of SRC International Bhd after the company obtained RM4 billion loan which was guaranteed by the government.
Lead prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram had the former prime minister against the ropes when he asked the latter if he would have given his own money to the RM2 company, which has since not only failed to service its debt but also had nothing to show for.
Najib kept disagreeing with all such suggestions put forward by the Deputy Public Prosecutor during the cross-examination and maintained that others - including the company board of directors and officials in a unit within the Finance Ministry Inc - should have kept track of SRC International's performance.
"The onus was on them to report to me," he said.
Sithambaram touched on the RM4 billion loan which SRC International obtained from the Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) by asking the accused, who is also the former Finance Minister, if he had ever been informed of the company's ahievements after it got its hands on the first RM2 billion.
To this Najib said he was initially informed that the company was making some good progress in its efforts to source for alternate energy sources, especially coal.
Sithambaram: But you were never told of the actual good progress of the company
Sithambaram: Did you make any attempt to meet SRC International's board of directors in view of the huge sum of money that had been given to the company?
Najib: I had trust in them.
Sithambaram: But they failed for seven years.
Najib: The unit in the Finance Ministry Inc shoud have been alerted.
Sithambaram: You took absolutely no interest in SRC International even though it had nothing to show after taking the first loan, and then the second loan and onwards until you left office.
Najib: I was concerned..that is why I replaced the chief executive (Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil) of the company
Sithambaram: You removed him as CEO but appointed him into the board of the same company. You kept him because he was actually the conduit to transfer money into your accounts.
Najib: I totally disagree.
Sithambaram then asked Najib if he ever heard the numerous alarm bells that were ringing at that time when it emerged that SRC International had taken all the money out of the country.
However, Najib responded by saying: "I thought they had invested..I cannot remember if it rang alarm bells."
The senior criminal lawyer then went on to question Najib about the second government guarantee which had been given to back SRC International's second loan even before the company applied for it.
Najib initially disagreed with the suggestion but eventually said he was not sure about it.
Sithambaram then chided Najib that the second loan looked more like a scam than an investment but the 66-year old disagreed.
However, this did not stop Sithambaram from going on to say that SRC International's only achievement had been to park all the money it got in Switzerland.
Najib maintained that he trusted SRC International board because it comprised of highly qualified individuals.
The trial before High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali continues.
The SRC International trial involves Najib being accused of abusing his position as prime minister by giving government guarantees to SRC International to obtain RM4 billion loan from KWAP.
He also faces three criminal breach of trust and three money laundering charges involving RM42 million of SRC International funds.