Najib gave over RM1.3 mil to tycoon, Johor MB, politicians: 1MDB trial witness

R. Uma Devi names 15 individuals, including cabinet ministers during ex-PM’s tenure. Besides individuals, Uma Devi’s statement had also mentioned that Najib paid over RM30 million to political groups between 2011 and 2013.

(The Vibes) – Imprisoned former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak issued 20 cheques worth over RM1.3 million to 15 individuals, mostly politicians aligned with Barisan Nasional (BN) or its lynchpin Umno, according to a witness in his ongoing 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) corruption trial.

Business tycoon Tan Sri Datuk Lim Soon Peng, Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi, and former Barisan Nasional (BN) cabinet ministers are among those named by AmBank Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager R. Uma Devi in her witness’ statement to the high court as recipients of the bulk of payments Najib made to individual figures.

1. Tan Sri Datuk Lim Soon Peng

According to her testimony, Lim, who is the founder of property developer Titijaya Land Bhd, was the individual who had received the most funds from Najib’s personal AmBank account at RM246,000 on August 7, 2013.

A previous witness, AmBank senior manager Badrul Hisham Mohamad, said on September 7 that Najib issued a cheque to Lim worth RM1 million on April 16, 2012.

This is also not the first time in recent years that Lim’s name has cropped up, as previous Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commision (MACC) investigations had reportedly uncovered how Najib made at least nine transfers to the tycoon totalling RM31.103 million between 2012 to 2015, including the transaction mentioned by Uma Devi.

Lim was also among 80 individuals and entities slapped with a compound notice by the anti-graft body in October 2019 to cough up over RM420 million of 1MDB-linked monies received from Najib.

Other personalities singled out by MACC then include former deputy finance minister and Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan, as well as former domestic trade and consumer affairs minister Tan Sri Shahrir Samad.

Prior to that, in April 2019, Najib’s former political secretary Wong Nai Chee had testified during the 1MDB corruption trial that Lim acted as an intermediary to shield Najib’s spending on what was essentially propaganda work aimed at local Chinese.

Referring to a transaction of RM238,914 on February 13, 2015 from Najib to Lim, Wong claimed that the latter was counted on to “mobilise the Chinese grassroots community”. The payment was for two companies, namely AD Network and Akademi Kewartawanan & Informasi Taima, which did propaganda work to boost Najib’s image among local Chinese.

In October 2018, with the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government in power, Lim’s lawyers wrote to then MACC chief Mohd Shukri Abdull appealing for MACC’s freeze on Lim’s bank accounts to be lifted, as the anti-graft agency had been investigating RM4 million he received from Najib.

In August 2020, after the fall of the PH government, then law minister Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan alleged that former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and former finance minister Lim Guan Eng had interfered, getting the attorney-general Tommy Thomas at the time to lift the freeze on the tycoon’s account, after the latter agreed to return a portion of the sum equivalent to the illegal earnings received from Najib in relation to the 1MDB scandal.

2. Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi

Uma Devi also revealed that the current Johor menteri besar had received four payments from Najib between March and May in 2012 totalling RM200,000.

Previously, in April 2019, Onn Hafiz had testified as a prosecution witness in his capacity as a shareholder of consultancy firm Vital Spire Sdn Bhd for Najib’s 1MDB-linked SRC International Sdn Bhd corruption trial.

He said then that he had received a payment of RM240,000 on January 30, 2015 from Najib to operate news portal Malaysian Digest, which is currently defunct after it was shut down in July 2018 following BN losing the 14th general election.

Aside from covering international and local news, the portal – which was apparently formed under Najib’s orders – was also allegedly set up to disseminate “balanced” information to the public and counter fake news.

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