Ex-1MDB CEO says he was briefed before PAC hearing

by RAHIMI YUNUS/ pic by ARIF KARTONO

FORMER 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) CEO Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi said he was coached by fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, and some Bariasan Nasional (BN) leaders on questions that could be asked during a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing.

Bernama reported that Shahrol Azral (picture) when testified as saying Jho Low also arranged for him to meet BN leaders before the PAC hearing in 2015.

The ninth prosecution’s witness said the meeting took place at Datuk Seri Ahmad Farid Ridzuan’s residence in Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur.

Ahmad Farid was the communication advisor to Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak.

Shahrol Azral said former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department and former PAC member Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan was also present in the meeting.

“I met Rahman Dahlan, who was a member of the committee at the time and we talked about the kind of questions the PAC would be asking,” he said at the Kuala Lumpur High Court yesterday.

Lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram asked if the questions discussed with Abdul Rahman were the ones asked in the PAC hearing, in which the witness replied: “Approximately, yes”.

Sri Ram: Actually, what was the purpose of the meeting?

Shahrol Azral: The meeting, before the PAC hearing, was to prepare me for the kind of questions and the post-hearing meeting was to discuss what the report was going to contain.

In the meeting at Ahmad Farid’s house, Shahrol Azral said he was told that Najib was being politically attacked over the 1MDB scandal and he was instructed to downplay any role Najib had in 1MDB.

Between 2009 and 2013, Shahrol Azral said he noticed a pattern of 1MDB leakages occurred when parts of borrowed funds for strategic national projects were siphoned to other parties.

He said the method was tightened over the years, leaving 1MDB’s management and board with less room for discussion on fundraising matters.

“For example, during the 2009 PetroSaudi International Ltd joint-venture project, there were some discussions at the board on the investment, which was in contrast with the 2013 US$6 billion (RM25.2 billion) joint investment fund with International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC)-Abu Dhabi Malaysia Investment Co that was done solely via a director’s circular resolution and shareholder resolutions,” he added.

According to Shahrol Azral, 1MDB had accumulated a total debt of RM30 billion by the time he left 1MDB in March 2013.

He said the debts included RM5 billion bonds issued by 1MDB and guaranteed by the Ministry of Finance (MoF), and US$3.5 billion bonds jointly guaranteed by IPIC and MoF.

He said the RM30 billion debt was fully borne by MoF.

Meanwhile, Shahrol Azral said his last drawn salary at 1MDB was RM99,000, after enjoying an increment every year.

In 2012, the witness said he received RM80,000 a month and an 18-month bonus.

He also received RM179,000 a year and RM1,500 per meeting as a member of the 1MDB board of directors.

“Then a few days later, Jho Low told me that he (Jho Low) spoke with Najib who mentioned to him about that call and he (Jho Low) told me that ‘boss was pleased, and Shahrol Azral seems to be on top of things’,” he said, referring to corporate social responsibility projects and the 18-month bonus.

The trial was adjourned until Monday.