KUALA LUMPUR, August 15 — Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz stressed today that her husband, Datuk Tawfiq Aiman, refuses to accept any bribe, and revealed that 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) is not the only company that has received approval from Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM). Within 24 hours to send money outside of Malaysia.
Zeti, the former BNM governor from 2000 to 2016, said this while testifying as the 46th prosecution witness in the case of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak regarding RM2.28 billion 1MDB funding.
Najib’s chief defense attorney, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, said that as part of his ongoing efforts to challenge Zeti’s credibility as a prosecution witness, former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner, during the US trial of his former colleague Roger Ng. He read parts of his statement dated February 22, 2022 at noon. court in New York.
Based on quotations read by Shafee in the Supreme Court, Leissner alleged that Ng had told him that 1MDB transferred US$1 billion in an “overnight” investment from Malaysia in 2009, allegedly the husband of then-governor Zeti. “he was bribed to make it happen” and he made the transfer happen that day.
From the excerpts, Leissner also claimed in US court that it was “unprecedented at the time” and that it “did not get approval so quickly” with BNM.
After Shafee read these quotes, Zeti said that all of Leissner’s claims on the subject were “false”.
Confirming that her husband had made a statement to respond to Leissner’s allegations, Zeti said, “He did, he said he had never taken a bribe in his life.”
Zeti said her husband also talked about Leissner and Ng: “She was, implying that she didn’t know and had never met these two people and never knew them.”
Zeti said that both he and BNM did not comment on Leissner’s allegations because they were told it would affect the case and they should not comment.
While Shafee claimed that the allegation implied that Zeti’s husband was able to bribe and influence her, Zeti said, “Then we need to address that issue separately, how was that approval process given. Have you been given the opportunity to tell me?”
Shafee did not ask him to give details, but asked for confirmation that he never made a press release to refute the allegation, which he confirmed.
Tawfiq had previously released a statement on February 24, 2022, in which he denied ever taking bribes from anyone in his life, and also stated that he did not know and had never met or communicated with Leissner and Ng.
Earlier this morning, Shafee questioned Zeti about the speed with which 1MDB approved to send US$1 billion into a supposed offshore investment to acquire a 40 percent stake in a joint venture with PetroSaudi International on September 28, 2009. applied to BNM for approval and BNM gave approval on 29 September 2009. Zeti said such approval was necessary because it involved the remittance or sending of borrowed funds, and US$1 billion in debt money raised through the issuance of government-guaranteed bonds.
Shafee asked Zeti about the speed with which BNM approves 1MDB’s $1 billion transaction: “So I ask you what the normal course of things is, I put it on the 28th, I get the approval on the 29th. That’s $1 billion that’s it. approve so quickly that others have a hard time getting approval.
Zeti gave a definitive answer: “This is not true, this is not true.”
“There were at least six other approvals at the time, and approval was given within a day because all the documents are in order. This is not approval for investment evaluation, approval for the remittance of these funds, and if all the documents are complete i.e. board approval and any other required for the approved process. The documents are listed and then approved.
“There are six more cases approved in one day, including international companies applying. So this is not unprecedented,” he said, adding that BNM has records of other approvals.
Earlier today, Zeti also took the opportunity to explain to Shafee that there is a pre-approval process for 1MDB’s $1 billion transfer, as is common with other companies.
Zeti said that 1MDB had a preliminary meeting or preliminary discussion before applying for BNM’s approval for the $1 billion transaction. he also asked how they can protect 1MDB from foreign exchange exposure.
He added that the approval also requires the signatures of six different officers at BNM, including the project manager, the officer’s supervisor, a head of department, the deputy governor, and the deputy governor: “So this whole governance structure happens and if everything is in Line, approval is given and this is not uncommon as said, there are other companies that do it this way.”
That afternoon, Shafee suggested that if BNM had not given approval, 1MDB’s $1 billion wouldn’t have been sent through two parties, $700 million and $300 million, to the wrong entity, but Zeti said: “There was no reason. 1MDB) board approved the remittance, the government approved the financing and guarantee of the funds, and that’s why Bank Negara approved it.”
Zeti wrote to BNM saying that the new bank account to which the $1 billion fund will be sent is a subsidiary of the 1MDB and PetroSaudi partnership, not a “rogue official”, but Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, the then CEO of 1MDB. stressed. stating that the joint venture is the joint venture company approved for the transfer of investment funds.
Shafee also questioned the speed with which BNM responded to 1MDB’s emails, asking why this was done “in a rush”, but Zeti said: “This is the process for business decisions, the central bank is operational business important. It’s standard procedure.”
Later, Shafee asked if Najib had played any role in any crime, such as US$700 million of the $1 billion that went elsewhere in violation of the 1MDB board’s decision, and then Zeti suggested that Najib’s role be government-owned by the Cabinet. He said it includes presenting to 1MDB’s predecessor, Terengganu Investment Authority Berhad (TIA), to issue a guarantee for the bonds raised at US$1 billion.
Zeti says that 1MDB is wholly owned by the Ministry of Finance and that 1MDB’s so-called joint venture “investment” did not exist as a result of the investigation, while Shafee “does not run the company like a small Chinese family or sole proprietorship company or an Indian newspaper run by himself,” he said. The salesman was the prime minister, he cannot manage everything.
Zeti shouted that there was no such investment, claiming that Najib, the finance minister of the time, was the chairman of the advisory board of 1MDB, and that he would be aware of the investment that 1MDB had to make.
Shafee then showed Zeti the company constitution of 1MDB, and Zeti confirmed that he had not seen Article 93 read to him and stated that the chairman of 1MDB’s advisory board held the executive position. He also said he has no information about whether Najib has taken any administrative action as 1MDB’s advisory board chairman.
However, Zeti also questioned whether the finance minister would have known about 1MDB’s investment while the company was owned by the Ministry of Finance.
Shafee then asked Zeti if he had seen signs of then-Prime Minister Najib’s “dirty hands” or his involvement in false statements made to BNM and Deutsche Bank to send $700 million of the $1 billion to the 1MDB board, as opposed to the 1MDB board. Zeti later reiterated Najib’s position as finance minister, then said, “I have no idea what his involvement was at the time in question.”
Today, attorney Nik Azila Shuhada Nik Abdullah held a follow-up briefing for BNM, while attorney Datuk Joshua Kevin Sathiaseelan held a follow-up briefing for Zeti.
Najib’s 1MDB trial before Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah will continue tomorrow morning, and Shafee will continue to cross-examine Zeti, saying today she expects to take “all week” to ask her questions.
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