Jho Low was Najib’s ‘unofficial’ advisor, says witness

Amhari Efendi says Jho Low was involved in political strategy discussions, despite not having any govt position


FUGITIVE businessman Low Taek Jho, or also known as Jho Low, was one of Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s political strategists, without having any official position in the government, prosecution witness Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin told the High Court yesterday.

On the sixth day of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) trial, Najib’s former special officer testified that Jho Low was involved in discussions pertaining to investments, government-to-government and the political strategy for the former prime minister (PM).

“Jho Low was a ‘pencatur’ (strategist). He planned and arranged things that involved strategies and was able to make things happen. He was one of the individuals, from what Jho Low told me, that I know who talked about political plans for the election,” Amhari Efendi said during crossexamination yesterday.

He added that Jho Low was widely known at the PM’s office as an unofficial advisor to Najib, albeit without any official appointment letter.

Amhari Efendi further said that Jho Low, as an unofficial advisor, might have discussed matters relating to 1MDB in confidence with Najib.

The prosecution’s eighth witness, however, told the court that he was not aware of Jho Low’s appointment as a company advisor to Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) on April 8, 2009.

Lead defence counsel Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah pointed out that Jho Low, prior to his appointment, had misrepresented himself as the special advisor to TIA’s board of advisors’ chairman, the 13th Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin.

The Istana Negara on behalf of Sultan Mizan, who is the Sultan of Terengganu, had raised concerns on Jho Low’s roles in TIA, according to a minute of the company.

TIA was a predecessor to 1MDB. According to the minutes, a representative of the Istana Negara questioned who and what are the roles of Jho Low as the Palace was worried that the businessman had misused the King’s name at the material time.

Amhari Efendi also said Jho Low had prepared a list of frequently asked questions for Najib and key individuals who were on the frontline to say that he did not have any role in the sovereign wealth fund.

During the cross-examination Muhammad Shafee zoomed in on “inconsistencies” detected in Amhari Efendi’s witness statement — whether he and the late Datuk Seri Azlin Alias, Najib’s former principal private secretary, did check with Najib on most of the instructions received by Jho Low, or was it just on selected important matters.

Amhari Efendi said it depended on the subject matter, context and circumstances that included Najib’s availability and time constraints.