Monday 22 Jul 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 14) : Former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz has denied that the high-powered task force on 1Malaysia Development Bhd was purposely set up to charge the serving prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and topple the government.

During cross-examination, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah was asking Zeti about a purported leak of draft charge sheets on Najib in 2015, and suggested to her that the members of the task force wanted to charge Najib.

"That is not correct. When the taskforce first met, I believe it was something like June 9, 2015, there was no knowledge on anyone's part including BNM, that there was a connection between 1MDB and the monies in the prime minister's (Najib) account. So that's not correct," she said.

The task force was led by then attorney general Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, and included then Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamad, Zeti and then Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar.

Zeti explained that her role in the committee concerned the complications arising from the high level of indebtedness caused by 1MDB's borrowings; there were fears that the issues could affect generations of Malaysians.

Shafee: You are the only person in the task force who oversees the economy, the rest are... involved in charging people?

Zeti: We know about the debts and the economic implications of what is happening. It cannot be ignored. We only have a supporting role in the task force.

Shafee: However, Khalid moved away from the committee as he suspected something rotten (in the committee) as there were draft charges... with MACC.

Zeti: I am not aware.

Shafee: The task force did not seek consent of the Cabinet when it was formed under Article 145 of the Federal Constitution?

Zeti: I have no knowledge of this.

Task force disbanded

Prior to that, the task force had raided AmBank's headquarters in Jalan Raja Chulan. Zeti testified on Monday (Aug 14) that the task force learned after the raid that RM3.2 billion had gone into Najib's personal account.

Meanwhile, it was also reported that a deputy public prosecutor and an investigating officer with the MACC were remanded over the purported leaked draft charges.

The task force was disbanded by Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali, who was appointed by Najib in July 2015 to replace Abdul Gani as AG. Mohamed Apandi Ali would clear Najib of wrongdoing in 2016.

During the cross-examination of Zeti, Shafee also questioned her position as a member of the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP), which was set up during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's tenure as the seventh prime minister.

Zeti denied that her role in the CEP was to continue probing 1MDB, as there was another task force formed by Dr Mahathir for the purpose, which was chaired by former attorney general Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman.

She said that she, along with Tan Sri Robert Kuok, Tan Sri Mohd Hassan Merican and Dr Jome Kwame Sundram, were tasked with looking for ways to improve the country’s economy.

When Shafee showed an article of a news portal interview with Dr Mahathir commenting that had he known of Zeti’s family purported involvement in 1MDB, he would not have appointed her to the CEP, the former BNM governor replied that 1MDB was never discussed by the CEP.

“BNM gave assistance to the task force (headed by Abu Talib) and not the eminent persons,” he said.

“I attended the CEP meeting for 100 days and 1MDB was never discussed. If you have evidence [proving 1MDB was discussed], show it to me,” Zeti replied.

She continued to deny her family’s involvement with 1MDB’s money and reiterated that whatever was deposited had been returned.

Shafee: I put it to you that you have concealed [your family’s involvement in the investigation in 1MDB, in 2018] when the new government took over. You didn’t tell Dr Mahathir as PM that your family received from Jho Low

Zeti: My family did not receive 1MDB money.

Shafee then said it was Najib who ended up in the accused dock, when his cross-examination of her showed that the transfer of US$1 billion in 1MDB funds back in 2009 to Jho Low-controlled Good Star Ltd and 1MDB-PetroSaudi International Ltd's joint venture was the fault of 1MDB's board and management, BNM and AmBank.

“I am putting it to you, is there anything that can show that the then (PM) and former minister of finance was involved in this hoodwinking?

Zeti replied that Najib had spent at least RM1 billion out of the RM3.2 billion that entered his account, and some of these funds originated from 1MDB.

The Edge is covering the trial live here.

Users of The Edge Markets app may tap here to access the live report.

Edited ByLam Jian Wyn
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