Najib defends credit card spending in SRC International trial

Bede Hong Ravin Palanisamy

Former prime minister Najib Razak explains a number of credit card transactions to the Kuala Lumpur High Court, saying he had the power to use the donated funds in his personal accounts at his absolute discretion. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Nazir Sufari, December 9, 2019.

FORMER prime minister Najib Razak today defended several credit card transactions between 2014 and 2015, saying they were not much compared to the donated funds he had in his accounts.

He earlier testified that he had donations amounting to RM210,748,071.78 in his AmBank accounts ending 906 and 898.

During examination-in-chief by defence counsel Rahmat Nazlan, Najib spoke of jewellery purchases amounting to RM3.3 million made on August 8, 2014, at jeweller De Grisogono in Italy for Noor Abdulaziz Abdulla Turki Al-Subaie, wife of Shaikh Hamad Jassim Jabr Al Thani, who was then Qatar’s prime minister.

He spoke of a beneficial relationship with Qatar, saying during a recent working trip to Malaysia, the Qatari couple had given gifts to him and his wife, Rosmah Mansor.

Najib said he believed gifts for the wife of Sheikh Ahmad would further improve diplomatic ties between the two countries.

“I did not want to use public funds to buy this gift (for them) and I thought since this (AmBank accounts) fund was at hand, I believed it was proper to use it, instead of tapping into public funds.

“I also believed that the spending of that fund was at my absolute discretion and for the benefit of Malaysians,” he told the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

Najib faces three counts of criminal breach of trust, three counts of money-laundering and one count of abuse of power.

His charges are linked to RM4 billion in loans issued to SRC International in 2011 and 2012, for which he is accused of receiving RM42 million in his accounts in 2014 and 2015.

He also referred to two credit card transactions that he said were “sensationalised” during the SRC International trial.

His credit card was charged US$130,625.00 (RM466,330.11) for a purchase at a Chanel store in Honolulu, in the United States in December 22, 2014.

The second charge of RM127,017,46 was at the Shangri-La Hotel in Bangkok on January 2015.

“The purchase at Chanel in Honolulu was a watch I bought as a birthday gift for my wife in December (2014).”

On the Shangri-La credit card transaction, Najib said he was on a private vacation to Bangkok after visiting Kota Baru, Kelantan to assess the flood situation there.

“Even though it was a private vacation, I took the opportunity to meet my Thai counterpart Prayut Chan-o-Chan to discuss how Thailand can assist us with the floods we were facing then.

“The cost of RM120,000 at the Shangri-La covered my stay and that of my support staff who accompanied me during the trip, and other unanticipated expenses.

“It was my right to claim the expense from the government, as I had worked during my vacation. But I chose to bear the cost on my own as I did not want to complicate matters.

“As I have said previously, I believed that I had the right to use the funds how I felt I needed to. Again, I am very careful about my spending.

“My lawyer has provided a breakdown of the amount used in the new account including the credit card expenses incurred from August 2013 to March 2015.

“The total personal expenses (of the two credit card transactions in Honolulu and Bangkok) account for only 0.4% of the funds received in the account.” – December 9, 2019.

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