KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak admitted in the High Court today he minuted the Malay word bersetuju (agree) on a letter from SRC International Sdn Bhd seeking his approval, as the finance minister, for a RM3.95 billion loan from Kumpulan Wang Persaraan Diperbadankan (KWAP).
Najib, 66, said he minuted the word for his own attention to indicate his support for the SRC loan application.
The former prime minister said that as the matter at that time was still current and had caught his eye, he decided to extend his support to the application submitted by SRC on June 3, 2011.
Najib was reading out his witness statement on the first day of his defence in the trial on three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT), three charges of money laundering and one count of abuse of position in relation to SRC funds totalling RM42 million.
Nevertheless, he said, the word bersetuju did not mean that it was final and cannot be changed.
“The matter was subject to scrutiny by officers who, at times, gave differing opinions. As such, the word bersetuju did not mean a carte blanche agreement. It did not prohibit differing opinions to be offered and considered,” he said.
Asked by counsel Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed whether the bersetuju minuted by Najib was directed at then KWAP CEO Datuk Azian Mohd Noh to approve the loan, Najib said: “Not at all.”
He said that as the finance minister, he had no authority to direct KWAP to approve any such loan.
That authority was vested with the Investment Panel as stated in the Retirement Fund Act 2007 which provided for an Investment Panel that had the absolute authority to decide on matters brought before it, he said.
In fact, he said, Azian herself had no authority to approve loans on behalf of KWAP.
As the KWAP CEO, she was only an ex-officio member of the Investment Panel without any power to vote, he said.
Najib also admitted that he had asked KWAP to expedite its decision to provide the loan or get another agency to do so if the loan application did not get through.
“This was to enable SRC to move forward with the planned programmes,” he said.
To a question by counsel that (former Treasury secretary-general) Tan Sri Dr Wan Abdul Aziz Wan Abdullah had testified that Najib had had another discussion with him over the SRC application for the RM3.95-billion loan during which Najib had asked him to expedite the loan process and that Wan Abdul Aziz had stated that Najib informed him that “RM2 billion will be sufficient”, Najib said it did not make sense for him to have said that “RM2 billion will be sufficient”.
The hearing before Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali continues tomorrow. — Bernama