Najib Razak today dismissed a suggestion by the prosecution that his reply to questions in his SRC International corruption trial were similar to that of ex-lawyer VK Lingam’s infamous “looks like me, sounds like me but it’s not me” line.
Ad-hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram made the remark as the ex-prime minister’s standard answer was “it looks like my signature” when disputing the authenticity of the signature on a banking-related document.
“Yes, it looks like my signature, but not like what you are suggesting,” Najib said.
Again Najib explained that a handwriting expert was needed to verify whether his signature had been forged, a mantra that he has been repeating since this morning.
Najib was earlier asked by Sithambaram to confirm his signature and name on an instruction letter he had sent to AmBank, telling it to close his personal bank accounts ending with 694 and 481 in August 2013.
In that letter, Najib also ordered the bank to transfer the remaining balance of RM12,436,711.87 and RM82.67 respectively to accounts ending with 880.
Sithambaram jokingly said: “Whenever you say that, it reminds me of a case years ago where someone once said ‘Looks like me, sounds like me, but it’s not me’.”
That remark drew laughter from those present in court.
In January 2008, Lingam, once a high-profile counsel, coined what some Malaysians would consider the quote of the century when testifying before a royal commission of inquiry into the fixing of judges for appointments and promotions.
Lingam uttered those words when denying a mobile phone conversation he had had with the then chief justice, Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim.
The prosecution in the on-going trial is arguing that Najib’s signatures should not be an issue as the former prime minister had raised no objection when questioned by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
The defence was also silent on the matter when key documents were handed over by the prosecution, as well as when Najib gave his statement of defence, as required under the MACC Act.
Sithambaram said the signature issue was being raised for the first time in the midst of the trial as an afterthought.
Najib also told the court that he was “surprised” to see a document where he had signed off as the sole shareholder of SRC, which was under the Minister of Finance Incorporated (MoF Inc).
That document suggested that Najib had ordered the SRC board of directors to deposit RM1.8 billion in BSI bank in Lugano, Switzerland, and Julius Baer AG in Hong Kong.
Another RM200 million was kept locally. The money was the second tranche of a RM2 billion loan from Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP) to SRC to realise the government’s National Energy Policy.
Questioned by Sithambaram why he had refused to lodge a police report over the document, Najib said he did not do so because the matter was already in court.
Najib said the decision to invest was from the board and that MoF Inc had merely endorsed it.
“Since it is about operational matters, it must be decided by the directors,” he said, adding that his duty was to run the country.
To this, Sithamabram said he would restrain himself from giving a reply as the answer would not be flattering for the ex-prime minister.
Najib said Sithambaram was entitled to his opinion.
Sithambaram then said he was baffled by Najib’s answer that he had been unaware that a large sum of money had been taken out from Malaysia.
Najib is accused of abusing his power as prime minister by giving government guarantees on SRC International’s RM4 billion loan from Retirement Fund Inc.
He is also charged with three counts of money laundering and three counts of criminal breach of trust in the transfer of RM42 million to his accounts from the former 1MDB unit.
The hearing continues before trial judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.
Source : FMT