June 22, 2023
KUALA LUMPUR – Former treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah told the High Court that one of the voices in four audio recordings released by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had a voice that sounded like Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Mohd Irwan, however, said that he was not present during the event that took place in the recorded conversations.
“Anybody could recognise that voice (Najib’s) but the conversation did not happen before me so I have to say that one of the voices sounded like Najib’s while the other (voice) sounded like an Arab person,” he said on the stand here on Wednesday (June 21).
Mohd Irwan was testifying in an examination-in-chief by Deputy Public Prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib at Najib’s corruption trial involving RM2.28bil of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
He was asked about four audio recordings between two individuals. The four recordings were part of nine recordings released by the MACC in 2020.
The witness further said that three out of the four recordings appeared to be conversations between the person who sounded like Najib and the Middle Eastern man while the fourth recording appeared to be conversations between Najib and his former special officer, Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin.
On Nov 14, 2022, the late lead prosecutor Tan Sri Gopal Sri Ram attempted to have the audio recordings played in court for Mohd Irwan to identify the voices in the recordings.
One of the recordings featured a voice that sounded like Najib addressing an individual as “Your Highness” where they spoke about 1MDB issues.
However, Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah had objected then on grounds that the recordings were obtained through illegal means.
During Wednesday’s proceedings, Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah had ruled that the recordings were admissible as evidence in court.
Mohd Irwan was then called to the stand to resume his testimony as the 42nd prosecution witness in the trial.
When asked by Muhammad Shafee during cross-examination, Mohd Irwan said he could not confirm whether the voice was really Najib’s or whether it was a “deepfake”.
Muhammad Shafee: After hearing the recordings, would you be able to say these (recordings) are deepfakes?
Mohd Irwan: I cannot say because I am not an expert.
The witness also agreed with the lawyer’s suggestion that without hearing the recordings in its entirety, one would not know the real context of the conversations.
The recordings in question was part of a series of nine audio recordings disclosed by then MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya in January 2020, purportedly linked to SRC International and 1MDB, which also included another recording of an alleged phone conversation between Najib and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, among others.
Najib, 69, was on trial for 25 charges in total – four for abuse of power that allegedly brought him the financial benefit to the tune of RM2.28bil; and 21 for money laundering involving the same amount of money.
The trial continues before Justice Sequerah on July 7.