Najib endorses RM216,000 remuneration for himself at 1MDB, witness says

As chairman of 1MDB’s board of advisors, Najib received RM120,000 a year and another RM96,000 as member of the board


FORMER Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak (picture) had set and approved a total of RM216,000 remuneration for himself for being a member of 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) board of advisors.

A key witness in the trial testified that Najib received RM120,000 a year as the chairman of 1MDB board of advisors and another RM96,000 as a member of the board of advisors.

Bernama reported former 1MDB CEO Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi as saying that these allowances were fixed by Najib himself as the chairman of the board of advisors.

He also signed in a directors’ circular resolution dated June 6, 2010.

“After these amounts were approved by Najib, only then we brought it in a board of directors meeting to finalise the approval,” Shahrol Azral told the High Court yesterday.

In the SRC International Sdn Bhd trial, it was revealed that Najib received RM58,605 a month from May 2009 to April 2018 as the PM.

From 2011 and 2014, the Pekan MP received RM10,355 a month as an MP and the leader of the Dewan Rakyat before the allowance was raised to RM19,846 from January 2015 to March 2018, excluding special allowances paid on certain months.

Shahrol Azral also revealed 1MDB directors’ fees, including chairman Tan Sri Lodin Wok Kamaruddin, who took home RM230,000 per annum, while other board members — namely Tan Sri Ismee Ismail, Datuk Ong Gim Huat, Shahrol Azral (himself) and Ashvin Jethanand received RM179,000 each.

Shahrol Azral said the quantum of directors’ fees were proposed by Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, and approved by Najib.

He said the amounts were paid to the directors every year since the effective date of April 1, 2011, and no amendment was made.

In 2009, 1MDB, which was a splinter of Terengganu Investment Authority Bhd (TIA), had about RM4.3 billion fund from the RM5 billion Islamic medium-term notes issued by TIA.

The fund was initially planned to be used to develop Pulau Bidong in Terengganu with Abu Dhabi’s strategic investment firm Mubadala Investment Co PJSC.

But a major conflict emerged between TIA stakeholders had led to the cancellation of the project and the company was then transferred from the Terengganu state to the federal government.

Subsequently, 1MDB forged a collaboration with PetroSaudi International Ltd (PSI), which Shahrol Azral said the idea was hatched when Najib spent a holiday in South France on a yacht in August 2009 with Prince Turki Abdullah, according to Jho Low who was also on the vessel.

The plan was for 1MDB to form a US$2.5 billion (RM10.5 billion) joint venture (JV) with PSI, of which the US$1 billion cash was supposed to be injected by 1MDB, while PSI invested US$1.5 billion of discounted assets in the JV company (JVCo).

This was called Project Aria, as presented by Casey Tang, a senior 1MDB officer in a board meeting.

Shahrol Azral, however, testified that US$700 million from the US$1 billion was siphoned into a Jho Low-owned company Good Star Ltd.

Lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram: Had the US$1 billion already been disbursed?

Shahrol Azral: Yes, it has.

Sri Ram: What would an audit have revealed at the point in time?

Shahrol Azral: The audit at that point in 2010 would have revealed that we invested US$1 billion with PSI, but US$300 million went to the JVCo (between 1MDB and PetroSaudi), while US$700 million has been transferred to another company purportedly owned by Jho Low.

Sri Ram: What was the name of that company?

Shahrol Azral: Good Star Ltd.

The witness said Najib and Jho Low had a “symbiotic relationship”, based on his observations over various circumstances of Najib’s approval on instructions by Jho Low.