KUALA LUMPUR: A clearly agitated Datuk Seri Najib Razak today snapped when he was pressed about the millions of SRC International Bhd money that had been banked into his account.
The former Prime Minister shot back at lead prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram by denying knowledge of any such transaction.
"I am not so stupid to do something like this, you know," he said when the deputy public prosecutor (DPP) kept winding him up on how his close associate and former SRC International chief executive Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil had consistently moved money out of the company by layering it through several other accounts, before the cash ended up in Najib's hands.
Najib's answer only opened the door for Sithambaram to pounce, as he retorted:
"In my 40 years as a lawyer, I have seen a lot of intelligent people charged in court, so don't give me that.
"The fact is, Nik Faisal was a trusted lieutenant you placed in SRC International to siphon off its money."
Najib, however, disagreed with Sithambaram's statement and maintained that he never knew what Nik Faisal was up to all the while.
Asked why anyone would want to go through all the hassle to take SRC International's money, put it into his account, and keep it a secret from him, Najib again said he did not know the reason behind it.
Hearing his answer, Sithambaram pointed out to Najib that repeatedly saying "I don't know" wasn't going to bode well for the accused.
The former Finance Minister nevertheless repeated that he really did not know.
Later, Najib said he removed Nik Faisal as SRC International CEO, but kept him as a member of the company’s board of directors, besides retaining him as a mandate for his personal bank accounts.
Asked why he did that despite knowing that Nik Faisal had been involved in financial mismanagement, Najib said he wanted to wait until SRC International got back its RM3.6 billion, which had been frozen by Swiss authorities in 2013 over money laundering allegations.
He said SRC International had then been tasked to get the money back.
This opened another opportunity for Sithambaram, who skewered Najib by saying: "You don't get a crook to get the money back."
The senior criminal lawyer then asked Najib about keeping Nik Faisal as the authorised person to manage his bank accounts, despite all the latter's shortcomings.
"I kept him for a while," Najib said, but was later forced to admit it was longer than that, when Sithambaram pointed out that Nik Faisal had actually managed the accounts right from the time they were opened to when they were closed in 2015.
Najib was also asked on the so-called Arab donation which he insisted had been given to him by the late King Abdullah Aziz Al Saud.
Sithambaram referred to several letters which had been tendered as evidence and questioned Najib if they were indeed genuine copies of correspondence between him and the Saudis.
The 66-year old, however, denied that the letters had been manufactured to cover his tracks.
Asked why he had never written any letter thanking the Saudi King for the donation he received, Najib agreed that he never did so through letters.
"I thanked him personally and through diplomatic channels," he said.
On the donation he received, Najib said he returned a big portion of it after the general elections.
He noted that the money had been given to him as an appreciation for the way he managed the country and kept Malaysia a moderate Muslim nation where racial harmony prevailed.
He stressed the donation was mainly to fund his general election campaign.
"The money was given to ensure the continuity of the same government in Malaysia. The major requirement was for the purpose of the general elections," he said.
The trial before High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali continues.
Najib is facing seven charges of abuse of power, money laundering and criminal breach of trust involving RM42 million of SRC International funds.
He faces up to 20-years jail if convicted of the offences.