KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court hearing Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor’s corruption case was told yesterday that Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had given his written “agreement” for the exemption of certain documents required for the approval of interim payments to Jepak Holdings Sdn Bhd.
Former education minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said Najib made notes to this effect on the first page of a letter dated July 19, 2017 which he sent to the former prime minister.
He said the letter to Najib, who was the then finance minister, was to seek his approval to waive the requirement for certain documents so that the Education Ministry could make the interim payments claimed by Jepak for diesel genset works implemented by the company since January 2017.
The fifth prosecution witness said Najib’s notes were addressed to Datuk Othman Semail, the secretary of the Government Acquisition Division in the Finance Ministry.
“The minutes stated that ‘Bersetuju diberikan pengecualian khas seperti dipohon. Sila uruskan’ (Agree to give special exemption as requested. Please proceed.) Datuk Seri Najib also signed the minutes. After that I handed the letter to (former Education Ministry secretary-general) Datuk Seri Alias (Ahmad) for further action,” he said on the third day of Rosmah’s trial for corruption involving a solar hybrid project for schools in Sarawak.
Mahdzir said Alias told him that the Finance Ministry wanted the Education Ministry to handle Jepak’s claims for interim payments amounting to RM92 million to avoid any legal implications because the Surat Setuju Terima (SST or Letter of Acceptance) and official contract for the solar hybrid project had been signed and payments should be made within 24 hours but the Education Ministry needed to ensure financial procedures were adhered to.
The witness said financial officers at the Education Ministry told him that they were pressured by Jepak to speed up the interim payments.
He said at that time there were problems in making the payments because Jepak did not give complete supporting documents.
Mahdzir, in his witness statement, said that in July 2017 Jepak managing director Saidi Abang Samsudin had met him in his office regarding the problems faced by Jepak in getting the interim payments for the project.
He said Saidi told him that the Finance Division of the Education Ministry refused to process the claims for interim payments because of incomplete documents resulting from non-compliance with the price negotiation process.
“I could not help Saidi and asked him to follow the set financial procedures and discuss with the Finance Ministry.
Saidi belittled me because as the education minister and an old friend I could not help him.
“Saidi then pressured me to help him, saying he would complain to Datuk Seri Najib, Datin Seri Rosmah and Datuk Rizal Mansor,” he added.
He said that at a meeting in Putrajaya two or three days later, Rizal asked him to help Jepak get the payments.
“I told Datuk Rizal that the procedure to get the payments should go through the Finance Ministry and he asked me to write a letter seeking exemption from Datuk Seri Najib in his capacity as the finance minister.
“At the request of Datuk Rizal, I directed officers at the Education Ministry to prepare an application letter directed to Datuk Seri Najib.
The letter sought the approval of Datuk Seri Najib to waive the requirement for certain documents so that the Education Ministry could make interim payments to Jepak,” he said.
Mahdzir, 59, said the letter asked for special exemption from Najib with regard to certain incomplete documents like project approval document from the Finance Ministry.
He said he handed the letter to Najib after a cabinet meeting on July 19, 2017 and told him that it was related to Jepak, which was facing problems in its payment claims.
“I also requested Datuk Seri Najib to give special exemption on financial procedure to enable payments to be made to Jepak.
“Datuk Seri Najib as the finance minister had the power to grant the exemption,” he said.
Mahdzir said as far as he knew, the Education Ministry did make interim payments to Jepak in 2017.
Rosmah, 68, had pleaded not guilty to a charge of soliciting RM187.5 million and two counts of receiving a bribe of RM6.5 million from Saidi through Rosmah’s former aide Datuk Rizal Mansor.
It was as an inducement to help Jepak secure the Hybrid Photovoltaic Solar System Integrated Project worth RM1.25 billion through direct negotiation from the Education Ministry.
Rosmah allegedly committed the offences at three places, namely Lygon Cafe, Sunway Putra Mall in Jalan Putra, at her house in Jalan Langgak Duta, Taman Duta and at Seri Perdana Residence, Persiaran Seri Perdana, Precinct 10, Putrajaya between January 2016 and Sept 7, 2017.
The hearing before Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan continues today. — Bernama