The “donation” purportedly given by a Saudi royal a decade ago — which was channelled into Malaysia’s former premier Najib Razak’s personal bank accounts — did “not matter”, as the funds were meant to be used for corporate social responsibility (CSR) purposes, said the country’s former foreign minister.
Anifah Aman, in his testimony during Najib’s SRC International Sdn Bhd corruption trial at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Thu (13 Feb), said that “it has been a common practice in Umno for the president of the party to be in charge personally of most of the political funds”.
Anifah also said — in line with the testimonies of two other witnesses called by Najib — that storing the funds in Najib’s personal accounts would “bring about easier controls”, as King Abdullah purportedly did not want the disbursement of his donation to be unclear in nature.
He added that Najib had sought clarification from a former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir regarding whether he had correctly understood that the then-Saudi ruler wanted the funds to be stored in Najib’s personal bank account.
Anifah said that he later learnt that King Abdullah was keen on giving financial support to Najib for political purposes, as he was purportedly impressed by how the Malaysian government was able to fend off Islamic extremism and preserve Malaysia’s image as a moderate Muslim-majority country.
“King Abdullah took note of the fact that Malaysia would face the [13th general election] very imminently and was anxious that Najib would receive all the support that His Majesty could provide,” he told the court.
Responding to Najib’s defence lawyer’s question regarding whether Najib had instead requested the Saudi king for financial help or if King Abdullah himself had voluntarily offered financial assistance, Anifah said: “From my understanding, it is the King who offered from my own observation.”
Najib is currently facing more than seven charges in relation to criminal breach of trust involving RM42 million of SRC International’s funds under his capacity as the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister, as well as for money laundering and abuse of power for self-gratification involving said sum.
Throughout his trial, he insisted that the multiple transactions made from 2011 to 2013 in his personal bank accounts — totalling to RM3.2 billion — were “donations” from the Saudi royal family.
Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor, is also currently on trial for corruption involving the solicitation of RM187.5 million — and subsequently receiving RM1.5 million — pertaining to a solar electric project for 364 rural schools in the state of Sarawak.