KUALA LUMPUR: Former Attorney General (AG) Tan Sri Apandi Ali's decision to clear Datuk Seri Najib Razak of any wrongdoing over the SRC International Bhd and 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandals was raised in the High Court here today.
Najib was questioned about the decision and also asked if he had appointed Apandi into the Tabung Haji board the same day the latter absolved him of all charges.
Lead prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram broached the subject at the closing stage of his cross-examination and started by asking Najib about Apandi's press conference on Jan 26, 2016.
Sithambaram: At this press conference Apandi absolved you of any wrongdoing. On the same day he was appointed into the Tabung Haji board. Isn't that true?
Najib: I am not sure of the exact date
Sithambaram: Under the Tabung Haji Act 1995, it is not compulsory for the AG to be a member of the Tabung Haji board, correct?
Najib: Probably not...I can't remember.
Sithambaram then asked Najib if evidence which had been adduced in the course of the ongoing trial showed that Apandi's decision to absolve him was clearly wrong.
Najib disagreed with the suggestion and rebutted the Deputy Public Prosecutor's argument that Apandi's appointment into the Tabung Haji board was done in bad faith.
It was previously reported that Apandi had cleared Najib of any wrongdoing in the 1MDB and SRC International scandals during a press conference.
It was later revealed that Apandi had been appointed into the Tabung Haji board. However, he quit the board in June 2018 after the Pakatan Harapan government took over.
Asked if he planned to call Apandi as one of the defence witness, Najib said his lawyers were still considering the matter.
Earlier in the proceedings today, Najib was also put through the grinder on the RM42 million of SRC International money which ended up in his private accounts.
Najib insisted he was not aware that money he spent actually originated from SRC International, a former 1MDB linked company.
He insisted that he would never have condoned it if he knew money from the company was being channeled to his account.
Asked why anyone would want to put millions into his account without his knowledge, Najib said he did not know.
Sithambaram then pointed out to Najib that the transaction history of his bank accounts showed that funds came in periodically whenever he needed to write cheques.
The 66-year-old however maintained that he never knew it was from SRC International and always thought it was leftover money from the Arab donation he received.
The Pekan member of parliament insisted that he had always imagined the money to be part of the RM2.6 billion Arab donation which he received from the late King Abdullah Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia between 2011 and 2014.
However, when asked if he knew the so-called donation money which he received and later returned could all be traced to fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho @ Jho Low's companies, Najib maintained he did not know and neither bothered to check such details.
Najib nevertheless agreed that he relied on Jho Low to deal with the Saudi Royals as the Penang-born businessman was a conduit between both parties.
Najib: He was nominated by the Saudi Royal family
Sithambaram: What do you mean he was nominated...Did the King call both of you into a room and introduced Jho Low as his nominee?
Najib: I just know that for a fact.
Sithambaram then suggested that Najib had known all along that the money which he received never came from the Arabs.
However, the accused denied this and said some of the money had come directly from the Saudi Ministry of Finance.
Sithambaram: Unfortunately no member of the Saudi royal family will come to court and confirm this, correct?
Najib: Well, it is difficult to get them to come to court
Sithambaram: It is also very convenient for you not to call them to maintain your line of story.
Najib: I disagree.
The trial before High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali will continue on Feb 3.
Najib is facing seven charges of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering involving RM42 million of SRC International funds.
He faces 20 years' jail if found guilty of the offences.