Najib Trial Day 32 Suboh Defence Clash Over Alleged Similarity In Witness Statements



The criminal trial of former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak involving the alleged misappropriation of funds from SRC International Sdn Bhd enters its 32nd day today at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur
Malaysiakini brings you live reports of the proceedings

Summary of Najib’s SRC RM42 million caseNajib is facing 7 charges relating to RM42m involving SRC International, a former 1MDB subsidiary
1 abuse of power charge3 criminal breach of trust (CBT) charges3 money laundering chargesClick to view infomation on judge, prosecution and defence teamKEY HIGHLIGHTSSuboh, defence clash over alleged similarity in witness statements'SRC retained Nik Faisal to recover funds from RM4b loan'Suboh unfamiliar with SRC's bid for first RM2b loanLaughter yet again as Suboh asks lawyer if he needs breakSRC ex-director: I signed DCRs without supporting documentsNajib to file bid for ruling on exemption to attend ParliamentCourt breaks early as Najib heads to ParliamentSuboh unaware of SRC account that received first RM2b loanDefence probes timing of Ihsan Perdana appointmentZahid drops inSuboh's son joined SRC project management team in 2014SRC board confronted Nik Faisal, despite 'mountain behind him'Suboh unsure why Nik Faisal's term as CEO, MD not renewedLaughter as Suboh asks lawyer: 'You need a break?''SRC had scanty management team, roles of many figures unknown'AG seeks further SRC trial dates beyond Aug 15Thank you for following Malaysiakini's live report6.00pm - Thank you for following our live report today
Suboh, defence clash over alleged similarity in witness statements5.30pm - Suboh Md Yassin and lawyer Harvinderjit Singh clash over a purported similarity between a paragraph in the former SRC International director's witness statement and that of the company's former chairperson Ismee Ismail
Ismee IsmailAs proceedings come to a close today, tensions rise when former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak's counsel Harvinderjit highlights the alleged similarity
Harvinderjit questions whether Suboh's witness statement genuinely comprised his own words, which causes the witness to raise his voice in protest
The lawyer points to the alleged similarity between paragraph six of Suboh's witness statement and paragraph nine of previous witness Ismee's own witness statement, whereby the purported difference was only one word, "turut"
The paragraph in question deals with the composition of SRC International's board, and the appointment of all board members by then prime minister, Najib
The paragraph also states that the board members will act in accordance with the advice of the company's then advisor emeritus, Najib
Suboh: At the end of the day, they (DPP) showed me, I looked at it (the words for the recording of the witness statement), and I am satisfied with the statement
Harvinderjit: But you cannot confirm these are even your own words
As Suboh tries to explain, the lawyer abruptly says "Thank you" and ends the exchange
Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali then reminds Suboh not to discuss his testimony with anyone before proceedings resume on Monday next week
The court then adjourns for the day. 'SRC retained Nik Faisal to recover funds from RM4b loan'5.15pm - Although Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil’s term as SRC International CEO ended in 2014, the company still retained him as an executive director afterwards
According to former SRC International director Suboh Md Yassin, this was because it was thought that Nik Faisal was the only one who could recover funds from the RM4 billion loan given by the Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP) to SRC International
Most funds from the loan had been moved overseas for alleged investment
The board had initially accepted Nik Faisal’s accounts of what happened to the funds in 2011 and 2012, but later became suspicious and ordered Nik Faisal to bring the funds back to SRC
Suboh testifies on the decision to retain Nik Faisal during cross-examination by lawyer Harvinderjit Singh
Harvinderjit: Even when Nik Faisal's term ended as CEO and (Mohammed) Azhar (Osman Khairuddin) took over (as SRC International CEO), Nik's role was (retained) to bring back the funds (of RM4 billion)
Suboh: He has the contacts, that is why we retained him as executive director
Harvinderjit: As the company would be handicapped without him in terms of the (RM4 billion) funds
Suboh: Yeah
Harvinderjit: Even despite his action of having misled the board (on the auditing of financial statements), he was made to carry on not as CEO, but the company still had to keep him as executive director as he was needed
Suboh: Hence why he needed to be retained
Harvinderjit: Otherwise, it would not make sense to retain someone who misled (the board)
Suboh: Yes, as it involved billions (loaned from KWAP). Suboh unfamiliar with SRC's bid for first RM2b loan4.04pm - Former SRC International director Suboh Md Yassin says he is unfamiliar with the company's application for a first loan of RM2 billion from the Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP) and a related government guarantee
The 42nd witness also states he is unfamiliar with 1MDB’s initial attempt to secure a grant to set up SRC International
He says this during cross-examination by lawyer Harvinderjit Singh
Harvinderjit: You are not familiar with the KWAP loan until it was approved and the related government guarantee issued (in late 2011)? When you came in (onto SRC International's board), it was already a done deal
Suboh: Yes
Laughter yet again as Suboh asks lawyer if he needs break4pm - The court has a light-hearted moment when 68-year-old witness Suboh Md Yassin once again teases much younger defence attorney Harvinderjit Singh about whether the latter needs a short break
This happens when Harvinderjit is cross-examining the former SRC International director over the company's directors' resolution in 2011
Harvinderjit SinghPerhaps seeing that Harvinderjit could be tired, Suboh then appears to tease the lawyer by asking, "Do you need a break?"His question causes many in the courtroom to laugh, as this was the second time Suboh had asked Harvinderjit a similar question today
Moments later, those in the court were in stitches again when Suboh once again turned down an offer to ask the court to stand down for a short recess
DPP V Sithambaram: Datuk, are you okay? You need a break
Harvinderjit: (to Suboh) I’m okay, Datuk, if you need a break
Suboh: Okay
Harvinderjit: Okay for a break
Suboh: Okay (to) continue
SRC ex-director: I signed DCRs without supporting documents3.10pm - The court hears from former SRC International non-executive director Suboh Md Yassin that he would "just sign" directors' circular resolutions (DCR) that were given to him during his tenure at the company
A DCR is a documented resolution signed by a company’s directors, with wording to indicate that they support the resolution
Testifying under cross-examination by defence counsel Harvinderjit Singh, the prosecution’s key witness says that it was the practice then to sign DCRs without consulting other directors or referring to supporting documents
Harvinderjit asks Suboh a number of questions, beginning with a DCR tendered in court
Harvinderjit: How was this (DCR) sent to you
Suboh: Normally they will call first, (asking) ‘Are you available?’Harvinderjit: Who will call you
Suboh: The secretary. (SRC’s then CEO) Nik Faisal (Ariff Kamil)’s secretary
Harvinderjit: Do you discuss it with other directors (first)
Suboh: I just signed it
Harvin: That was the normal practice for all DCRs
Suboh: Yes
Harvinderjit: They show you, and you sign the DCR
Suboh: Correct
Harvinderjit: Would there be a supporting document, or just the DCR
Suboh: Just the DCR
2.53pm - Proceedings resume
Najib to file bid for ruling on exemption to attend Parliament12.36pm - Former premier and Pekan MP Najib Abdul Razak will file an application at the Court of Appeal for a ruling on whether a lawmaker can be exempted from attending trial in order to participate in parliamentary sittings
Najib Abdul Razak (left)The accused's lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah informs Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali about this, just before proceedings break for lunch today
The application is related to Mohd Nazlan's ruling on Monday, which did not allow Najib to be excused from proceedings in order to attend a Dewan Rakyat debate about a proposed Bill involving asset declaration for MPs
Shafee informs the court that the application is not an appeal, but rather a fresh application for a ruling on the issue of exempting MPs from ongoing proceedings in order to partake in Dewan Rakyat sittings
"Due to the statutory duty of an MP, we do not want to appeal Yang Arif’s (Nazlan) decision (on Monday)
"We will go to the Court of Appeal and (file a) fresh application, and perhaps maybe to the Federal Court, to argue that the MP must be (allowed to be exempted from proceedings so the lawmaker can attend Parliament)," Shafee tells the court
Shafee then informs the court that the defence would also seek a copy of the Monday ruling, in order to help the defence prepare an affidavit in support of the application to the Court of Appeal
Najib heads to Parliament, court takes early break12.35pm - The court breaks early for lunch as Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali allows an application by Najib Abdul Razak's team to allow the Pekan MP to attend a briefing in Parliament, which is scheduled to start at 1.30pm today
Najib's lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah in making the application, says that it is important for his client to attend the briefing at Dewan Rakyat as it involves tabling of a bill to amend the federal constitution concerning age of voting
Najib Abdul Razak (centre) and Muhammad Shafee Abdullah (right)He estimates that his client only needs to be at Parliament until approximately 2.30pm, after which he might be able to return to the court by 2.45pm
DPP V Sithambaram says the prosecution has no objection to the application, since Najib was only asking for an adjournment until the stated time
" If that’s the case, we have no objection. We are reasonable people," says Sithambaram
However, he expresses concern and seeks the court's direction to prevent any further delay
Justice Nazlan tells the counsels that since there has been no objection, the court will allow Shafee's application
He orders the afternoon session to start at 2.45pm and end at 5.30pm
The court then goes for break
Suboh unaware of SRC account that received first RM2b loan12.10pm - Former SRC International director Suboh Md Yassin was not aware of the existence of an AmBank account that received the first RM2 billion loan given by the Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP) to the company in late 2011
He is responding to a question from lawyer Harvinderjit Singh over the account in question, which was identified by its ending numbers 736, during cross-examination
Harvinderjit: With regard to the 736 account - you do not know, you were not the signatory (for the account)
Suboh: Yeah
The witness also says he is not aware of transactions involving the account
Previous oral evidence by other witnesses has pointed to the RM2 billion flowing into the account on Aug 29, 2011
Defence probes timing of Ihsan Perdana appointment 11.45am - The court hears that Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil was no longer the CEO and managing director of SRC International when the company appointed Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd as its corporate social responsibility partner
Former SRC International non-executive director, Suboh Md Yassin, agrees with defence counsel Harvinderjit Singh that Nik Faisal's tenure had ended on Aug 11, 2014
He also confirmed that Ihsan Perdana was appointed as the company’s CSR partner in September that year
Harvinderjit then continues cross-examining Suboh on Nik Faisal's claims that he directly reported to then prime minister Najib Abdul Razak
Zahid drops in11.30am - Former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi enters court
Ahmad Zahid HamidiThe former home minister takes a seat in the front row, directly behind the dock where accused Najib Abdul Razak sits
A short while later, the Umno president exits the courtroom
Suboh's son joined SRC project management team in 201411.20am - The High Court hears from former SRC International director Suboh Md Yassin that a son of his had joined the company's project management team in October 2014
Suboh, who was a non-executive director of the company then, testifies today that his son named Sufian joined the team under the leadership of SRC International's new CEO Azhar Osman Khairuddin
Harvinderjit: According to the minutes of the board meeting in Oct 2014, you attended (the meeting)
Suboh: Yes
Harvinderjit: There is Sufian bin Suboh, is he your son
Suboh: Yes
Harvinderjit: He joined the (SRC International) project management team
Suboh: Yes
Harvinderjit: (Under) Azhar (Osman) Khairuddin, he undertook two projects, namely the national strategic coal initative, and the trans-Sabah gas pipeline, correct
Suboh: Yes
Harvinderjit: Your son was appointed to the project management team under Azhar
Suboh: Yes
The defence counsel acting for former premier Najib Abdul Razak then continues cross-examining Suboh regarding Azhar's appointment as the company CEO
SRC board confronted Nik Faisal, despite ‘mountain behind him’11.15am - Despite allegedly having a "mountain behind him", then SRC International CEO and managing director Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil was confronted by the company's board for misleading it over the submission of audited company accounts for 2013
Former company director Suboh Md Yassin agrees with this contention by lawyer Harvinderjit Singh
The 42nd witness also agrees with the lawyer that despite being described as having a "mountain behind him" (as Suboh testifie yesterday), Nik Faisal was made to relinquish his position on Aug 11, 2014
Harvinderjit: Referring to minutes of Aug 11, 2014, Nik Faisal was no longer CEO of SRC
Suboh: Yes, okay
Harvinderjit: (This is despite) the ‘mountain behind’ the man (Nik Faisal). Who took over
Suboh: (Mohammed) Azhar (Osman Khairuddin)
Yesterday, Suboh described Nik Faisal as having been "emboldened" due to an unidentified person’s support, comparing it to the Chinese metonymy of having a mountain behind one’s back
Suboh unsure why Nik Faisal's term as CEO, MD not renewed11.10am - The High Court in Kuala Lumpur hears from Suboh Md Yassin that he was not aware why Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil’s appointment as SRC International CEO and managing director (MD) was not renewed in 2014
Suboh, who is a former non-executive director of the company, tells the court that he believed that SRC International board of directors could have made the decision because they were unhappy with Nik Faisal
Harvinderjit: Did you know that Nik Faisal’s tenure as CEO and MD came to an end when you were still an SRC director
Suboh: I don’t know, actually, that it happened
Harvinderjit: I’m not talking about him abdicating or running away. There was a point in 2014 when the board resolved not to continue his role as MD and CEO. Do you know this
Suboh: Yes, yes
Harvinderjit: You know this? What was the reason the board resolved not to continue his term
Suboh: Maybe the board was not happy with him
Harvinderjit: So, you are not sure
Suboh: I’m not sure what the actual reason was
11.01am - Proceedings resume after a short break
Laughter as Suboh asks lawyer: 'You need a break?' 10.37am - The whole court erupts in laughter when former SRC International director, Suboh Md Yassin, asks lawyer Harvinderjit Singh whether he needs a break
"You need a break?" asks the 68-year-old 42nd witness, putting the much younger lawyer and those present in stitches
The canny question is a response from Harvinderjit's initial query to Suboh on whether the witness would like a short break of proceedings
A very short while later, judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali allows a 10-minute break
'SRC had scanty management team, roles of many figures unknown'9.45am: Former SRC International director Suboh Md Yassin (above) tells the court that he did not know who was in the company's management team other than its then CEO and managing director Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil
Testifying under cross-examination by defence lawyer Harvinderjit Singh, he says that SRC International management was "scanty people"
Harvinderjit: Did you meet SRC management apart from Nik Faisal
Suboh: I did not know if (SRC International) got a management team or not. Only saw Nik Faisal. For most occasions, I did not know who was the management team. Very scanty people
To another question by Harvinderjit, he testifies that while he had met several other figures at SRC International office during his tenure as a director there, including Terrence Geh, Radi Mohd and one Vincent Beng, he did not know what were their roles in the company
The witness agrees that the lack of clarity persisted during his time as director there
This includes what Nik Faisal (above) was doing in the company
Harvinderjit: Same as Terrence Geh
Suboh: I don't know what they were doing
Harvinderjit: Same as Nik Faisal, you don't know what he was doing also
Suboh: Yes, yes, yes
AG seeks further SRC trial dates beyond Aug 159.16am - Attorney-General Tommy Thomas applies for further trial dates of Najib Abdul Razak's RM42 million SRC case, which is set to end on Aug 15
He tells judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali this is necessary due to the current pace of proceedings
According to previously agreed trial schedule, the RM42 million SRC International trial will end on Aug 15, with Najib's 1MDB trial before separate Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah set to begin on Aug 19
Nazlan tells Thomas that he is open to further trial dates in September and November, but that he is set to hear another criminal case in October
Thomas then informs Nazlan that the prosecution would revert back with Sequerah and check whether he (Sequerah) is agreeable to vacating the 1MDB trial from Aug 19
9.15am - Proceedings begin, with Najib Abdul Razak entering the dock
9.01am - Wearing a dark magenta suit, former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak enters the court
The accused is seen conferring with his defence counsel Harvinderjit Singh while awaiting proceedings to begin
Also seen in court is Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, DPP V Sithambaram and other members of the prosecution team
Najib Abdul Razak’s defence team is expected to keep up the heat in their cross-examination of former SRC International director Suboh Md Yassin today
Having suffered a stroke years ago, the 42nd witness will face a slew of questions from lawyer Harvinderjit Singh as former premier Najib’s RM42 million SRC International trial before Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali enters the 32nd day
Lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah’s cross-examination of Suboh yesterday revealed that the witness had changed three times the statements he gave to MACC in a series of statement recordings in 2015 and last year
Shafee’s targeted questions also made Suboh give curt “Yes” replies as the veteran lawyer utilised a projector and slides to try convince the witness that his signature had been forged by SRC International’s then CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil in order to authorise fund transfers of millions of ringgit involving the accounts of the company, its subsidiary Gandingan Mentari, and its CSR partner Ihsan Perdana, among others
However, despite relentless cross-examination, the 68-year-old witness, who uses a walking stick, has proven himself capable of delivering surprising testimony, such as his statement yesterday that Nik Faisal was emboldened by not only his position in SRC International but also by having “somebody behind him”.  - Mkini

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