Linking strategy

LOS for 3 billion US dollars given very quickly, says witness

KUALA LUMPUR: A Government Support Letter (LOS) to secure a US$3 billion loan for the joint venture between 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and Aabar Investment BVI Co was issued “at high speed” within days.

A former deputy secretary-general at the Department of Finance told the High Court that the issuance was “a first of its kind” and was carried out without due diligence on the project’s cash flow, Bernama reported.

Datuk Siti Zauyah Mohd Desa, 63, said in his 25 years with the ministry, this was the first time an LOS had been issued by the ministry without due diligence being carried out.

“We had to do a Cabinet document the same day. The information provided to us was not sufficient and we had to work with the limited information we had.

“There was no current valuation on the investment in the joint venture. In fact, there was nothing, nothing for us to do our due diligence,” she said during re-examination by Senior Deputy Attorney General Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram in connection with the trial of former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for misappropriation of RM2.3 billion in 1MDB funds.

The $3 billion loan was approved by the government via a letter of support signed by Najib, who was finance minister in 2013.

Asked by Sri Ram why she did not approach Najib herself to express her concerns about the issues surrounding the sovereign wealth fund, Siti Zauyah said she had no direct access to the prime minister of the time.

“However, I approached the (then) Finance Minister II (Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah) but he did not want to get involved. I cannot bypass my bosses to go to the PM. He is not no custom for an officer to address the Prime Minister directly,” Prosecution Witness 26 said.

The Senior DPP also asked her about her previous testimony, where the witness said she had been instructed by former Treasury Secretary Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah to continue to deal with LOS despite the lack of diligence within reason.

Sri Ram: When you did what you did in this LOS transaction, were you free to act in defiance of Mohd Irwan’s instructions? Can you defy his order?

Siti Zauyah: I can advise him but it’s really up to him to accept it or not… but he told me it’s urgent because it comes from the PM. I had to do it.

Najib, 69, faces four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totaling RM2.3 billion from 1MDB funds and 21 money laundering charges in the same amount .

Earlier, another witness, Jalan Raja Chulan AmBank (M) Berhad branch manager, R. Uma Devi, 43, confirmed that AmBank had paid a settlement of RM2.83 billion to the Malaysian government for the 1MDB scandal.

However, she said she did not know if the settlement involved Najib.

The trial before Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues today.