Tuesday, July 5, 2022

No way to tell if Najib read ex-chairman’s SMS on 1MDB mismanagement, court told

Najib's lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah says the SMS system is not like WhatsApp where blue ticks show that the recipient has read the message.

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The High Court in Kuala Lumpur was today told that it could not be ascertained whether Najib Razak had read an SMS sent by former 1MDB chairman Mohd Bakke Salleh on the company’s mismanagement.

The former prime minister’s lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said the defence did not even have a copy of the SMS in question.

He said this when questioning Bakke, the 15th prosecution witness at Najib’s trial on the misappropriation of RM2.3 billion from 1MDB funds.

Shafee: We don’t know how short or extended your SMS was to my client. We don’t have a copy of your SMS.

Bakke: I remember… It was a lengthy SMS. I explained the payment of two tranches.

Shafee: But we don’t know whether the PM (Najib) managed to read the SMS or not. It is not like WhatsApp whereby we are able to see through the blue tick that the recipient has read the message.

Previously, it was reported that US$1 billion from 1MDB was placed in a joint venture and paid out in two batches of US$700 million and US$300 million.

The US$300 million was channelled to the joint-venture company while the US$700 million was paid to Good Star Limited, a company owned by fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low.

Shafee then questioned the witness on whether Najib might have been misled by the 1MDB management and Jho Low, to which Bakke answered, “Yes, possibly.”

During previous proceedings, Bakke testified that before submitting his resignation letter, he had sent an SMS to Najib to inform him of several matters which were instructed by the board of directors to the 1MDB management but not followed.

“However, I did not receive any response from Najib. It did not cross my mind to report to any relevant authorities the financial misconduct of the management of 1MDB because I assumed that I had already done so through my SMS to Najib.

“I hoped that Najib would take the necessary action against the management of 1MDB if he found any misconduct on their part.

“Since my concerns did not get Najib’s attention as he did not reply to my SMS, I had a feeling that he was involved and that something wrong was happening without my knowledge. This was one of the main reasons I decided to resign,” said Bakke.

Today, the court also heard that the 2016 Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report on issues faced by the sovereign wealth fund did not reflect what Bakke had exposed then in its entirety.

Bakke, who is now Petronas chairman, said much of what he revealed to PAC at the time had been omitted from the report which was later made public.

Najib, 68, faces four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion from 1MDB and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.

The trial before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues.

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