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1MDB management unresponsive after landing US$3 billion loan, witness tells court

Former finance ministry deputy secretary-general Siti Zauyah Mohd Desa says this was despite various efforts to obtain updates on how the US$3 billion was used.

Bernama
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Former finance ministry deputy secretary-general Siti Zauyah Mohd Desa says the 1MDB management never responded after securing a US$3 billion loan through a letter of support issued by the government. Photo: AFP
Former finance ministry deputy secretary-general Siti Zauyah Mohd Desa says the 1MDB management never responded after securing a US$3 billion loan through a letter of support issued by the government. Photo: AFP

The Kuala Lumpur High Court was yesterday told that the 1MDB management never gave any feedback after securing a US$3 billion loan through a letter of support (LOS) issued by the government.

Former finance ministry deputy secretary-general Siti Zauyah Mohd Desa, 63, said various efforts were made by the ministry to obtain the latest information from 1MDB on how the US$3 billion was used, but the company never responded.

"I tried to contact the management of 1MDB through letters and phone calls. We also contacted the representative of 1MDB at the time, Zahid Taib, to give feedback and submit a report to the finance ministry, but there was no reply.

"I also confirm that I never saw the joint venture agreement document between 1MDB and Aabar Investment BVI Co, which was in their LOS application to the government to secure the US$3 billion loan," she said when cross-examined by lawyer Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed, representing former prime minister Najib Razak at his trial over the misappropriation of RM2.3 billion from 1MDB. 

The 26th prosecution witness agreed with Wan Aizuddin's suggestion that 1MDB's lack of response showed the weakness of the company's management.
 
Wan Aizuddin: Do you agree with me that you can't attribute the fault of the 1MDB management to the prime minister, finance minister and the chairman of the board of advisers? 

All these positions were held by Najib.

Siti Zauyah: From what I can remember, there was a letter from (former 1MDB CEO) Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi stating that the management could not reveal any information about the use of US$3 billion because they had to refer to the 1MDB board of directors first.

Wan Aizuddin then referred to Siti Zauyah's witness statement which stated that Malaysia was now forced to pay the 1MDB debt due to the LOS issued by the government and signed by Najib as finance minister in 2013.

Siti Zauyah confirmed that she had no personal knowledge of the matter but had made a statement based on hearsay from the officer in charge of managing the LOS process.

Asked if she had seen any document showing that 1MDB failed to make repayments causing the government to bear the debt, Siti Zauyah replied "I don't remember... there must be some evidence, that's why I said that in my witness statement."

Wan Aizuddin: Interestingly, you made this statement: 'LOS signed by Najib as finance minister'. Are you attributing that the government has to bear the debt because Najib signed the LOS, therefore he is at fault? 

Siti Zauyah: No comment.

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

The trial is being heard by judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.