Entire SRC board went to Switzerland to check money

PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR - The board of directors of SRC International Sdn Bhd took a trip to a Swiss bank to ensure that the company's money was safely kept, the High Court heard.

Former board chairman Tan Sri Ismee Ismail said the issue of the funds in BSI Bank (now known as EFG International) kept arising, so the entire board went to meet the senior management of the bank in Lugano, Switzerland, in September 2013.

"Before this, the management only heard stories about BSI, so we went there and were assured that the money was safe and secure," he said.

Ismee said the assurance from the bank had comforted them.

The witness said this during an examination-in-chief by Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Ishak Mohd Yusoff at the corruption trial of former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is accused of misappropriating RM42mil (S$13.7 million)  in funds, belonging to SRC International.

DPP Ishak: Why was it important to confirm that the money was in BSI?

Ismee: To ensure the money is still there. It was very important for us to confirm that. To be assured that our funds were still there, deposited in the bank.

"We take comfort that the money is there," he said.

Earlier, the witness told the court that SRC International former CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil was the sole link between the company and Najib.

Ismee said any decision by the board of directors must have the advice of Najib, who was the adviser emeritus.

"If there was a matter that needed to be brought to Najib's attention, it would only be done by Nik Faisal as he acted as the link," he said.

Ismee said he had once raised the issue of SRC's governance to Nik Faisal, who would always reply that the matters raised had been discussed and agreed by the "government".

"In my opinion, the 'government' that Nik Faisal was referring to was Najib," he added.

He said he disagreed with the way SRC International, a 1MDB subsidiary, was run by Nik Faisal, especially in terms of the company's accounts and finances, which prompted him to quit.

"I tendered my resignation on May 6, 2014, and officially left on Aug 15, 2014," he said.

The witness later clarified that he resigned because of issues related to SRC International's audited financial accounts for 2013.

"The management had wanted the board to sign a resolution to approve an audited account for 2013. But we discovered that the account we approved was not audited yet. I found out about it in the press," he said.

Because of this, Ismee said he took responsibility as the board chairman to make sure that the account was closed and resigned after that.

The hearing continues today.

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