Sarawak Report 2015 expose triggered SRC probe

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on August 21, 2019.

Rosli denies being Brown’s source and knowing how documents were leaked to the Sarawak Report portal. Photo by Izwan Nazam

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KUALA LUMPUR: Sarawak Report’s expose published on July 2, 2015 led the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to investigate SRC International Sdn Bhd, according to MACC investigating officer (IO) and senior assistant commissioner Rosli Hussain.

During the trial of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s alleged embezzlement of RM42 million from SRC yesterday, Rosli said the investigation began when a report was lodged by MACC officer Prem Raj in the very morning when the article was published.

He repudiated suggestions that The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report was what prompted the anti-graft body to take action. “I have not seen or [been] shown the WSJ report,” he told defence counsel Harvinderjit Singh during his cross-examination.

The 57th and final prosecution witness added that he had neither met Sarawak Report editor Claire Rewcastle Brown nor directed his officers to meet her.

The witness also denied being Brown’s source and knowing how the documents were leaked to the online portal, as other agencies were also investigating the misappropriation of money from the former unit of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

“I did not ask how the documents were leaked. If there is leakage from my investigations, then it would be very serious,” he said.

Rosli said while he did not investigate the leaks, the police may have done so.

The witness explained that as his director Datuk Bahri Md Zin only appointed him an IO of the case on July 6, 2015, he was not responsible for the initial raid on SRC on July 3, 2015. Moreover, he was only involved in investigations into SRC and not 1MDB.

He recalled meeting Attorney-General Tommy Thomas twice regarding the investigation paper on the case before Najib was charged on July 4 last year.

The investigations into the former premier included MACC officers from Pahang, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak, Bank Negara Malaysia officers and the police.


Defence and prosecution clash over former's 'fishing expedition'

During the second half of yesterday’s proceedings, the defence and prosecution got into a dispute when the former asked Rosli about when he took statements from witnesses.

Appointed public prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram objected to the questions, saying the IO cannot be used by the defence to find out the witnesses who had given statements, adding that the witnesses would be offered by the prosecution to the defence.

However, lead defence counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah argued that the defence needed to know the nature of the investigations.

“We have the right to know [for] a fair trial,” he said, adding that when witnesses were cross-examined, each of them was asked when his or her statement was recorded.

Sithambaram then replied that the relevance of the witness had to be established and the defence cannot embark on a “fishing expedition” with the IO.

Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, presiding over the trial, allowed Harvinderjit to ask the questions.

The lawyer then asked Rosli about when he recorded statements from 55 witnesses — of a total of 57, including himself — who were called to testify in this trial. This continued until noon, just an hour before the court was slated to adjourn.

Harvinderjit told the judge that he may need one and a half days to cross-examine Rosli. Justice Mohd Nazlan has fixed tomorrow and Friday to continue hearing the case.