KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 29 — Payments made by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to two organisations, namely a weekly Chinese publication and the administration of a Facebook page went through a middleman instead of to the entities directly.
Former political secretary to the former premier Datuk Wong Nai Chee, 50, said this was to prevent the cheque from circulating on Facebook.
The 50-year-old witness, who is a lawyer, said this was also to prevent other people from trying to claim credit for the cheque to enhance their own credibility.
The fifth prosecution witness, said the RM246,000 cheque signed by Najib, was issued to tycoon Tan Sri Lim Soon Peng, who would then make back-to-back payment to Akademi Kewartawanan dan Informasi and AD Network (the two organisations).
He said this during examination-in-chief by lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram on the second day of Najib’s trial in relation to the four charges of having used his positions to obtain gratification totalling RM2.3 billion in 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same money.
He said the Akademi Kewartawanan dan Informasi was involved in the publication of a Chinese weekly, while AD Network was the administrator of the Ah Jib Gor Facebook page.
Wong however said Lim had no connections with these two entities.
Sri Ram: Can you explain to his Lordship why the cheques were not paid out to these two entities directly?
Wong: It was paid to Lim for a back-to-back payment to these two parties, because we trusted Lim, he would not run away with the money, and these two cheques were paid for the expenses incurred for the Chinese weekly publication as well as to maintain the Ah Jib Gor Facebook.
Sri Ram: Why is it back-to-back? What do you mean?
Wong: If we were to issue a personal cheque of the prime minister, we do not want that to be circulating on Facebook. So we would rather pay to somebody who we trusted. We trust Lim.
Sri Ram: You said, “We” did not want the cheques circulated on Facebook. Who you mean by “we”?
Wong: Myself and PM (Najib).
Wong confirmed that he had received a cheque dated Jan 21, 2012, amounting RM30,000 signed by Najib but could not remember exactly when he received the cheque but he believed that the amount was paid to political analysts.
There was also another RM2,600 cheque dated May 29, 2012, which Wong could not recall.
When questioned by Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, whether he had been prosecuted for money laundering, Wong said “no, never”.
Najib, 66, is facing four charges of having used his positions to obtain gratification totalling RM2.3 billion in 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same money.
The Pekan member of Parliament is alleged to have committed gratification offences at Jalan Raja Chulan branch of AmIslamic Bank Berhad, at No. 55, Jalan Raja Chulan, Bukit Ceylon here between Feb 24, 2011 and Dec 19, 2014 while for money laundering cases between March 22 and Aug 30, 2013.
The trial before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues.