by RAHIMI YUNUS/ pic by RAZAK GHAZALI
DATUK Seri Mohd Najib Razak and fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or known as Jho Low, had devised a covert scheme using multibillion-ringgit rail and gas pipeline projects to bail out debt-ridden 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
The Kuala Lumpur (KL) High Court was told about a top secret meeting in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to prevent a financial fallout with International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC) and the case from being dragged to the international court.
Datuk Amhari Effendi Nazaruddin, Najib’s former special officer, also told the High Court that Najib had privately ordered him to go to China to pitch new economic cooperation in exchange for bailing out 1MDB.
Amhari Effendi who is the prosecution’s eighth witness said the former prime minister (PM) had secretly instructed him to go to the UAE to facilitate debt settlement negotiation between 1MDB and IPIC.
Amhari Effendi said Najib instructed him to meet Mubadala Investment Co CEO Khaldoon Mubarak in Abu Dhabi in 2016 to convince the company not to drag 1MDB to the International Court of Arbitration (ICC) due to debt arrears under a binding term sheet agreement.
Amhari Effendi said Najib explained that the Malaysia-UAE bilateral relationship would turn sour should Mubadala decide to proceed with the legal recourse and a court case would impact the government during the election.
Amhari Effendi testified that on the same night after leaving Najib’s house in Jalan Langgak Duta, KL, Jho Low texted him the talking points for the meeting with Khaldoon on the BlackBerry Messenger.
“As a result of the meeting, Khaldoon and I agreed that we become the facilitators for both countries in a backchannel way, to avoid ICC if an agreement is reached and Malaysia to pay the next payment.
Amhari Effendi said the 1MDB-IPIC settlement agreement should have been signed by the end of 2016, but the negotiation went south as both parties failed to reach an agreement on certain clauses.
He added, however, IPIC lead solicitor Martin Edelman contacted him to inform that the negotiation was ongoing and eventually a settlement agreement was inked in mid-2017.
Amhari Effendi said Najib also directed him to touch base with China on new investment opportunities.
He said Jho Low provided talking points and action plans for these highly secretive meetings.
“At that time, I had to follow Najib’s instruction as this came from the man himself. I was stressed out with the situation and had a thought of quitting because the instruction was burdensome, especially after the passing of the late Datuk Seri Azlin Alias. I had to perform the task because he was my boss and the then PM.
“Based on the contents and agendas of the talking points, it was clear that Najib and Jho Low planned to use the agreement with China’s government-linked companies to bail out 1MDB,” he added.
During a meeting on June 28, 2016, Amhari Effendi proposed several items including the offer to China’s state enterprises to participate in infrastructure projects and simultaneously settle 1MDB and SRC International Sdn Bhd’s debts.
“The sentence ‘while simultaneously completely resolving 1MDB and SRC debts’ has given the meaning that Najib wanted the proposed cooperation to help bail out 1MDB,” Amhari Effendi said.
Amhari Effendi said Jho Low participated in those meetings, provided translation in Mandarin and furnished details of proposed infrastructure projects to the Chinese officials.
The projects linked to the bailout of 1MDB were the MultiProduct Pipeline (MPP), TransSabah Gas Pipeline (TSGP) and East Coast Rail Link. MPP and TSGP have been axed by the new government.