NAJIB WAS AWARE OF THE PROJECT
While Najib did not testify during the trial, he played a significant part in the case, according to the witnesses.
Saidi and his business partner Rayyan were said to have approached Rizal initially in October 2015 to ask if he could get Rosmah to obtain her husband’s approval for their project.
However, they were told that she “was not in the business of assisting contractors in getting Najib’s approval for projects”.
Following this, they sought the help of Aazmey Abu Talib, who was the secretary of United Malays National Organisation’s Pekan division in Pahang – a division headed by Najib.
Aazmey agreed to help and delivered a proposal letter from Saidi to Najib. The letter was returned with Najib’s minutes saying, “Agree to execute this new system and terminate the previous system,” as well as a letter from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Jepak sent another letter to Najib on Jun 2, 2016, in which they set out further details and proposals on the project.
This was forwarded to Mahdzir through a letter from the Prime Minister’s Office dated Jun 7. Saidi delivered the letters to Mahdzir personally the following day. Jepak’s letter also had Najib’s minutes saying, “Please execute according to my previous minutes.”
Saidi and Rayyan approached Aazmey again with Jepak’s letter to Najib, dated Nov 8, 2016. In that letter, Jepak requested Najib to direct Mahdzir to issue a letter of award to the company.
Following this, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a letter containing Jepak’s letter and a notation ordering the issuance of a letter of award.
LEAKED AUDIO RECORDINGS SHOWED ROSMAH GVING INSTRUCTIONS TO NAJIB ON GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS
On Jan 8, 2020, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had made nine audio recordings public, one of which was a conversation believed to be between Najib and Rosmah.
The clips, said to have been recorded between Jan 5, 2016 and Jul 29, 2016, were believed to be linked to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.
In one of the clips, a woman, believed to be Rosmah, could be heard berating Najib, offering him “advice” on how to manage the 1MDB scandal.
Frustrated that there were “goons” among Najib’s advisors, she said Najib should have taken charge and not anybody else.
“Can I advise you something?” she said, raising her voice.
“I don’t like this. Darling, you are the prime minister, you should take charge and not anybody else okay? You got goons around you to advise you.”
Several prosecution witnesses, including Rizal and Mahdzir, listened to the audio recording in court and testified that the voice was that of Rosmah.
In his judgment, the judge noted that Rosmah attempted to downplay the conversation by relating it to a typical discussion between husband and wife.
“It, however, was no ordinary conversation between spouses, for it was about government affairs. It is clear from the audio recording that the accused gave instructions to Najib on government affairs.
“Her tone was commanding and contrary to her contention that she heeded Najib’s prohibition on not meddling in government affairs.”
The judge added: “I say this with the greatest of respect, but it is apparent that the accused dominates Najib. She has control over him.”
“She had no business interfering in Najib’s duties or the government’s affairs, but she did,” he wrote.
FORMER EDUCATION MINISTER MAHDZIR “ATTEMPTED TO DO THE RIGHT THING”
During the course of events, Mahdzir, the former Education Minister, “attempted to do the right thing”, the court found.
He was reluctant to circumvent the ministry’s procedure.
“He had even gone to the extent of trying to persuade Najib on two occasions personally,” the judge wrote.
When presented with the letter of proposal from Jepak in the beginning, Mahdzir noted that the project would require specialised skills, which he doubted the company had.
Additionally, he had reservations about its capability to undertake such a massive commitment. Nonetheless, he instructed an officer in the Education Ministry to form a technical team and call upon Jepak to submit its proposal.
When pushed by Saidi and Rayyan to speed up the approval for the project, he told them they would need to go through the usual procedure and wait for the ministry’s official response.
They were not happy with this arrangement, and Najib later instructed Mahdzir to issue a letter of award “immediately”.
Despite pressure from Rizal, Saidi and Rayyan, Mahdzir refused to deviate from the course of action taken by his ministry. However, he received another set of instructions from Najib to proceed with his previous minutes, at which he “felt he had no choice but to approve the project”.
According to the judgment, Mahdzir spoke to Najib sometime in June 2016, during which he tried to convince him to use an open tender for the project and not through direct negotiations with Jepak. However, Najib was adamant and told him to carry out his instructions.
In November 2016, he met Najib again and advised him to defer the issuance of the letter of award to Jepak as there were few requirements that the company and the Education Ministry had to fulfil.
Mahdzir also complained of Saidi and Rayyan’s “constant harassment and disrespectful attitude toward him as a minister”.
However, Najib ignored his plea and instructed him to follow his instructions immediately, to which he felt “he had no choice but to adhere”.