No chance to inform Sultan Mizan over financial matters’ inexperience – Witness

by BERNAMA/ pic by ARIF KARTONO

Former chief executive officer (CEO) of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) told the High Court here today that he had no opportunity to tell the then Yang Di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin that he had no experience in financial matters.

Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi (picture), 49, said that his appointment as CEO of Terengganu Investment Authority Berhad (TIA) and later renamed 1MDB was decided by people above him, namely the TIA board and the stakeholders being the federal and state government.

The ninth prosecution witness said this during cross-examination by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah on the 18th day of the former premier’s 1MDB trial.

Muhammad Shafee: Did you tell the Sultan that you had no experience in fund-raising

Shahrol Azral: No, I had no opportunity to tell the Sutlan. I was not given an opportunity to speak to Tuanku about my concern (his lack experience in fund-raising).

“I was called to the palace, I sat down, and was introduced to the Sultan and given the offer. If I was not qualified for certain aspects, it was the people who appointed me that should have known that.

“I had zero opportunity to tell Agong that I had no experience. Tuanku was in a meeting room when I was brought in to the Istana by fugitive businessman Jho Low (Low Taek Jho) and it was my first time in the palace and I was not prepared (for the occasion),” he said.

However, the witness said that he had informed Jho Low that he did not have the experience in fund-raising before he was brought before the Agong in 2009.

Muhammad Shafee: You have no experience in financing matters, right Do you think that’s the reason why Jho Low appointed you Because you didn’t have financial experience

Shahrol Azral: At the time, I didn’t think so.

Muhammad Shafee: Now with hindsight

Shahrol Azral: That is a possibility.

Queried why the Sultan’s representative raised questions about Jho Low, the witness said that Jho Low told him that it was a political fight between the state and federal government.

Najib, 66, faces four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion from 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.

The hearing before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues.