Fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low (picture), prepared predicted questions that were expected to be asked by several quarters, including the media, together with damage control answers on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the High Court was told today.
Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin, 43, who is former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s special officer, said the questions could be on the amount of 1MDB’s debts that were guaranteed by the Malaysian government and how the Letter of Support differed from the Government Guarantee.
“Other predicted questions were on the status of investment funds managed by Brazen Sky Limited, the issue of RM2 billion repayment to Maybank and why it was not paid by 1MDB, and the last was regarding the IPO (Initial Public Offerings),” he said when reading out his witness statement on the fourth day of Najib’s trial.
Amhari Efendi, who is one of the key prosecution witnesses, said along with the questions, Jho Low also prepared damage control answers as the issue on misappropriation of 1MDB funds was then widely reported by the mass media.
“The questions were prepared by Jho Low as an ‘update’ for the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and they were contained in the documents on talking points for FAQ (Frequently Ask Questions),” he said during examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib.
The eighth prosecution witness told the court that he and Najib’s then principal private secretary (now deceased) Datuk Azlin Alias received the document from Jho Low.
“As far as I can remember, Datuk Azlin asked me to keep a copy of the document. I know and am confident this document is from Datuk Azlin because there is a note with his handwriting.
“The purpose of the matter was discussed earlier by Jho Low, to clarify issues that were raised by the public and for our knowledge so that we would be prepared if it cropped up,” he said, adding that he did not dispose of the document, possibly because he had overlooked it.
He said the document was given to him only for his information and he did not take any follow-up action on it.
Amhari Efendi, who was then with the Economics Division at the PMO, said he also received a memo containing current and latest issues on 1MDB from Jho Low via email.
“Jho Low prepared the memos and normally, he would take proactive action by sending them to everyone he thinks should be in the know. However, the memos need not necessarily be used and the individuals who usually received them included Datuk Seri Najib, Datuk Azlin and myself,” he added.
The witness told the court that he also received documents from Jho Low on the 1MDB rationalisation plan for 2015.
“At that time, there was a proposal to replace members of the board of directors (BOD) who were mostly individuals from the private sector with individuals from the government sector. My name was also proposed, but I was not selected as a BOD member.
“Most of the plans in the document, as far as I know, were implemented. Overall, the document showed Jho Low’s plans and response on the BOD selection, the PetroSaudi issue, IPIC/AABAR bond issue and also the debts incurred by the Malaysian government to cover 1MDB,” he said.
Amhari Efendi said he also received a note, with the heading, ‘1MDB Rationalisation Plan Overview: Accompanying Notes” in late 2014 or early 2015.
“It was prepared by Jho Low and I received the note either by email or through Datuk Azlin or during our meeting at Prince Hotel. The document was on Jho Low’s plan to settle 1MDB’s debts and it outlined the rationalisation plan for 1MDB.
“The plan was much talked about at that time. Since the 1MDB was not in a favourable position at that time, the proposal was to sell all assets and liabilities and wind it up. Jho Low planned to sell 1MDB assets and liabilities to cover 1MDB’s debts.
“For example, for the Bandar Malaysia project, the proposal was to transfer Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd to a company called Sg. Besi Development Sdn Bhd, a company that would be set up to buy Bandar Malaysia,” he added.
Amhari Efendi said there was also a document, titled Q&A: 1MDB/Foundation, which was also prepared by Jho Low.
“I received the document in late 2014 or early 2015 and it discussed several latest issues at that time on 1MDB. Among them were the amount of 1MDB’s current debt, whether 1MDB was capable of paying all the debts, why the loans were in USD, why keeps funds in Cayman Islands, who is Jho Low and his role in 1MDB and how is 1MDB helping the Malaysian government and the people.”
He said the document stated that Jho Low had no role in 1MDB, despite the fact that he was the key planner in 1MDB’s business.
“It stated that 1MDB was a successful project and this response could divert the allegations or accusations against Datuk Seri Najib on 1MDB’s problems,” he added.
Najib is facing four charges of using his position to obtain gratification totalling RM2.3 billion in 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same money.
The Pekan member of parliament is alleged to have committed the gratification offences at Jalan Raja Chulan branch of the AmIslamic Bank Berhad, at No. 55, Jalan Raja Chulan, Bukit Ceylon here between Feb 24, 2011 and Dec 19, 2014, and money laundering offences between March 22, 2013 and Aug 30, 2013, at the same place.
The hearing is before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.