KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 19 -- The High Court in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) trial of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak this week heard among others, that a joint venture (JV) between 1MDB and PetroSaudi International Ltd (PSI) was mainly about “a friend helping a friend”.
1MDB also erroneously inked a JV agreement worth US$1 billion with a company allegedly owned by fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low, according to ninth witness and former chief executive officer of 1MDB Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, 49.
Being a key witness, Shahrol Azral’s testimony is crucial in determining whether the prosecution’s charges against the former prime minister, 66, would stick.
Najib is facing four counts of having used his position to obtain gratification totalling RM2.3 billion from 1MDB and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same funds.
The Pekan MP allegedly committed the four offences at AmIslamic Bank Berhad, Jalan Raja Chulan branch, Bukit Ceylon here between Feb 24, 2011, and Dec 19, 2014, and the 21 charges, at the same place between March 22, 2013, and Aug 30, 2013.
We bring to you a brief recap of the witness’ testimony before High Court Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah:
- DAY 21 (Oct 14):
- Jho Low gave him talking points for a letter he was to write, with the purpose of “shielding” Najib.
- Between 2009 and 2010, witness signed several letters including a letter to Najib which sought to avoid giving confidential information about 1MDB to the National Audit Department (NAD) led by (then) auditor-general Tan Sri Ambrin Buang.
- Due diligence in regard to federalisation of 1MDB’s predecessor, Terengganu Investment Authority Berhad (TIA) was the main motive of the letters.
- Witness wrote to Najib based on contents given by Jho Low; he believed the instruction to restrict the confidential information had come from Najib.
- DAY 22 (Oct 15):
- (Trial postponed as the former premier was due to present a speech on Budget 2020 at Dewan Rakyat in the afternoon.)
- DAY 23 (Oct 16):
- JV between 1MDB and PSI was deemed as “a friend helping a friend”. JV was understood to have manifested from the personal relationship between Najib and late King of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Abdul Aziz al Saud.
- Witness only came to know about the JV between PSI and 1MDB through Jho Low.
- Witness was told by Jho Low that he was present during a discussion on the proposed JV, on a yacht during one of their holidays.
- 1MDB former director and chairman Tan Sri Mohd Bakke Salleh instructed not to record the telephone call he (Mohd Bakke) received from Najib during a 1MDB board of directors (BOD) special meeting on Sept 26, 2009 pertaining to the 1MDB-PSI JV.
- Meeting was held to decide whether the BOD should proceed with the joint venture between the two companies.
- Witness had invited Jho Low to explain directly to the BOD during that meeting, the essence of PSI International, how it was a government-to-government (G2G) initiative and how it came about.
- It was at the very beginning of the meeting that Mohd Bakke received a phone call, which Jho Low had already dialled and passed to the former.
- Upon receiving the phone from Jho Low, Mohd Bakke mouthed the word “PM” to the BOD and left the room.
- Witness said Mohd Bakke returned to the meeting and shared with the BOD that Najib called to explain that the JV was a G2G initiative which should not be delayed, in other words, must be expedited.
- Mohd Bakke did not want Najib’s phone call to be recorded in the minutes of the meeting and disagreed with witness’ suggestion to audio tape the meeting.?
- Witness believed 1MDB erroneously inked a joint-venture agreement worth US$1 billion with a company purportedly owned by Jho Low.?
- 1MDB had been in talks with oil services and production company PetroSaudi International Ltd (PSI) but instead signed an agreement with PetroSaudi Holdings (Cayman) Ltd in 2009.
- DAY 24 (Oct 17):
- It was Jho Low who proposed for Article 117 to be inserted into 1MDB’s Memorandum and Articles of Association (M&A).
- The amendment to shift the decision-making power from the federal government to the prime minister was done on the advice of parties such as lawyers from Wong and Partners.
- For the amendment, the context on replacing the ‘federal government’ in Article 9(a) with ‘prime minister’ in Article 117 came from Jho Low. It was what Najib wanted, to make it unambiguous.
- Najib was the ‘Emperor of 1MDB’.
- Despite the terms stated in the Companies Act, in reality, it was Najib who held the ultimate power, giving him free rein on how to manage 1MDB.
- Witness signed the minutes in relation to one 1MDB meeting because it was first signed by Najib. ?
- Witness signed the minutes because he believed Najib and Jho Low were working together in the best interest of the country.
- -- BERNAMA