KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 — Former 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) director Tan Sri Ismee Ismail today denied that he was threatened into giving evidence against former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Ismee also denied being given any promises of protection from being charged or sued in court, and said that he was only fulfilling his responsibility of telling the “truth” about 1MDB to Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigators.
Ismee said this while testifying as the 13th prosecution witness against Najib in the latter’s power abuse and money laundering trial involving more than RM2 billion of 1MDB’s funds.
Under cross-examination by Najib’s lawyer Datuk Hariharan Tara Singh, Ismee said the MACC had recorded his statement in two sessions around 2015 or 2016 and also in mid-2018, noting: “The way I understand it, there were two investigations, one in 2016 and another one is in 2018 onwards.”
When asked by Hariharan if he was threatened with both criminal and civil proceedings when MACC recorded his statement in 2018, Ismee replied “no”.
Asked if he was under “immense pressure” in 2018 when giving statements to MACC, Ismee said he would not describe it as pressure, noting: “But I was with a lot of uncertainty, you rasa macam–macam, you rasa takut (you feel all sorts of things, you feel fearful), because you don’t know what is happening.”
Ismee, however, agreed that his statements recorded in the earlier year were consistent with the statements he gave to MACC in 2018.
Ismee said no one had pressured him back in 2018, noting: “It’s very difficult to describe the feeling at that time, felt uncertain, felt takut (fearful) because, at that time, I was wondering what was happening.”
Confirming that he was placed under a travel ban in 2018 that he found out through the media and that he was not told the reason for the ban, Ismee later agreed with Hariharan that this would amount to “pressure” on him.
Hariharan then suggested: “I put it to you that you were threatened by MACC to give evidence against Datuk Seri Najib with a threat, otherwise criminal proceedings and civil proceedings will be instituted against you.”
“I don’t quite agree with that,” Ismee replied.
No promises made, but truth told
While Ismee has not been charged in court in any criminal cases, he confirmed that the Finance Ministry’s MOF Inc-owned 1MDB had launched a civil lawsuit against him and other former 1MDB senior management and former 1MDB directors.
Agreeing that he was unhappy when he found out about 1MDB’s civil lawsuit against him, but disagreed that he was given promises in order to testify against Najib.
Hariharan: “Now, I put it to you, that you became very unhappy because again, you were promised by MACC that if you give evidence against Datuk Seri Najib and cooperate, there would be no civil suit among others against you.”
Ismee: “Yang Arif, there were no promises.”
Hariharan continued to suggest that MACC had promised Ismee that he would be “protected” with no civil lawsuits and no civil proceedings and with the travel ban lifted, if he would cooperate in the 1MDB investigations.
But Ismee disagreed: “Not really, if any, what I mentioned, I was more concerned about my safety actually if you ask me. They showed me my safety is alright.”
Disagreeing that he was promised that his safety would be assured, Ismee explained: “No, no, when that thing happened, we were worried about everything, our safety, our family’s security and safety. If anything they didn’t show me I should be afraid or feel paranoid about it, but no promises about no charges, no civil suits, no such promises.”
As Hariharan continued to suggest if Ismee would not have to be worried about his safety if he was cooperative with MACC and gave evidence against Najib, Ismee said: “If I may answer this question in a different way, I wouldn’t say giving evidence against. Giving facts on the case, I’m responsible to beritahu fakta yang sebenar (tell the actual facts) on this case, so that’s what I did during the course of investigation.”
Hariharan suggested Ismee had given evidence against Najib as he was concerned for his safety, but Ismee maintained: “What I did was, I gave them the true facts of the case. Whether against or for, I don’t think I will be the judge of that.”
Hariharan suggested Ismee had not given a truthful statement to the MACC during the investigations in around 2015 and in 2018, but Ismee replied: “As far as I can recall, I think my statements are the truth.”
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