Shafee, ex-1MDB chairman in heated exchange over PetroSaudi deal

Hebahkan !!!

KUALA LUMPUR: Najib Razak’s 1MDB money laundering and power abuse trial got off to a fiery start this morning with the former prime minister’s lawyer and the company’s former chairman getting into a heated argument over a US$1 billion deal.

The exchange began when Najib’s lawyer, Shafee Abdullah, asked Bakke Salleh, the former 1MDB chairman, if he should have sought advice from 1MDB’s board of advisers on the company’s joint venture with PetroSaudi International Ltd (PSI).

Bakke had previously said the 1MDB board had instructed the management to carry out due diligence on the joint venture before proceeding, but this was not done.

“You (Bakke) said (in your testimony) that with the benefit of hindsight, you lost your cool and was ‘flabbergasted’ with the management for disobeying the board of directors’ orders,” said Shafee when cross-examining Bakke, a witness in the trial.

“You also said that you should not have resigned.”

This prompted a response from Bakke who said: “No, you are putting words in my mouth.

“My memory is still okay. I don’t know where you are plucking this from. I had said ‘with the benefit of hindsight I should not have served in 1MDB’.”

Shafee then referred to Bakke’s testimony before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) proceeding on Feb 11, 2016, and asked if he stood by his testimony about the joint venture.

Bakke then got into an argument with Shafee, saying the PAC’s report did not reflect his full testimony. This led to Shafee asking Bakke to just state if he stood by his testimony before the PAC.

“My question is simple, I just want to know if you stand by your PAC testimony?” Shafee asked.

Trial judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah then stepped in to diffuse the tension and told Bakke that as a witness, he had to answer the questions.

“I stand by my PAC testimony,” Bakke then said.

He explained that a lot of what he said during the PAC proceedings was not included in the bipartisan committee’s report.

“It doesn’t mean what you read today (the PAC report) represents what I said,” he added.

Shafee then asked Bakke why he seemed “defensive”, telling him that “you’re the witness, not the accused”.

Najib is standing trial on 25 charges of abuse of power and money laundering over alleged 1MDB funds amounting to RM2.28 billion deposited into his AmBank accounts between February 2011 and December 2014.

The hearing continues.

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