SRC trial: Sarawak Report, not WSJ article triggered MACC’s probe, says witness

Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission investigating officer Senior Assistant Commissioner Rosli Hussain is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court August 20, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 20 — An exposé by whistleblower website Sarawak Report (SR) about alleged money laundering offences using bank accounts related to Datuk Seri Najib Razak was what triggered the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigations back in 2015, the High Court heard today. 

MACC’s investigating officer Senior Assistant Commissioner Rosli Hussain testified how the information published in the July 2015 report had resulted in a report being filed with MACC that led to Najib’s eventual charges. 

Rosli, the prosecution’s 57th and final witness in Najib’s RM42 million SRC International Sdn Bhd corruption trial, had also confirmed with defence lawyer Harvinderjit Singh that investigations kicked off after the SR article became public, denying the connection of a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article published around the same time on the same matter. 

Rosli told the court that he was appointed as the lead investigating officer for the case on June 6, 2015, by his Special Operations department director Datuk Bahri Md Zin, adding how investigations formally commenced immediately after he was appointed. 

Harvinderjit: Among the reasons that became the basis of the (MACC) report was these two articles published on WSJ and on Sarawak Report?

Rosli: It was only one, the Sarawak Report one. I was not shown the WSJ article and I never saw it.

In the July 2015 report, SR alleged that investigators have traced billions of ringgit linked to the 1MDB money trail into Najib’s personal bank accounts. 

Among a series of key transactions identified was that a total of RM42 million flowed from 1MDB’s wholly-owned subsidiary SRC International into Najib’s personal accounts.

Rosli had also confirmed that despite the SR report triggering their investigations, he had not met nor ordered any of his investigators to record statements from the website’s editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown. 

The senior investigator also testified that he did not probe into the source of documents published by the website which were said to have been leaked out, adding that such investigations were in the hands of the police. 

When pressed, Rosli denied being the source of the leak or that he was aware of its source, then later agreeing that it would be safe to assume that it was leaked through other enforcement agencies. 

Harvinderjit: The Sarawak Report article had documents obtained from other investigating agencies, would you agree?

Rosli: I do not know from where they got the documents from.

Harvinderjit: The article refers to investigation papers of other investigating agencies, you agree?

Rosli: I do not agree. 

Harvinderjit: Would you agree with me that you actually do not know if they are from other agencies?

Rosli: Yes, I do not know. 

Harvinderjit: In your investigations, before you went to the bank to get the related documents, they were already leaked, you agree?

Rosli: If it is based on this (SR report), we can assume that. 

Harvinderjit: Did you verify who within the AmIslamic bank leaked the documents?

Rosli: I did not.

Harvinderjit: You did not see it as important for your investigations?

Rosli: Such investigations are supposed to be conducted by the police. 

Rosli testified that documents he obtained after being appointed lead investigating officer into SRC International’s case were not tampered with nor were they manipulated in any form when asked by Harvinderjit.

Najib is currently on trial seven charges of alleged abuse of position, money-laundering and criminal breach of trust over RM42 million of funds from SRC International, a former subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

During the course of the trial, witnesses have testified that Retirement Fund (Incorporated) granted a total of RM4 billion in loans in August 2011 and March 2012 to SRC International, with money allegedly flowing through other companies before being transferred into Najib’s accounts.

The trial resumes before High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali on Thursday morning. 

Related Articles SRC trial: Najib never disputed authenticity of signatures on bank documents during MACC questioning Hari pertama bicara Najib kes 1MDB ditangguh Isnin No go for Najib’s 1MDB trial today as hearing adjourned to Aug 26