Ex-1MDB CEO: Jho Low was sole link between 1MDB, Najib and me

Shahrol Azral explained that Jho Low had no formal position in 1MDB and was also not a special advisor to the company

by BERNAMA/ pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

FUGITIVE businessman Low Taek Jho (also known as Jho Low) was the sole link between state-owned sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), its then CEO and former Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak (picture).

1MDB former CEO Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, 49, told this to the Kuala Lumpur High Court yesterday, explaining that despite this, Jho Low had no formal position in 1MDB and was also not a special advisor to the company.

During previous proceedings, the court heard that Jho Low was the advisor of Terengganu Investment Authority Bhd (TIA), which became 1MDB in September 2009.

The ninth prosecution witness was speaking during cross-examination by Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, the defence counsel for Najib on the 19th day of the former PM’s trial relating to the misuse of 1MDB funds.

Muhammad Shafee: What was Jho Low’s position in 1MDB?

Shahrol Azral: He had no formal position in 1MDB.

Muhammad Shafee: What was his non-formal position in 1MDB?

Shahrol Azral: He was the link between 1MDB, me and also the sole shareholder, Datuk Seri Najib.

Muhammad Shafee: That’s what Jho Low claimed that time, that he was the link.

To a question on who the sole shareholder of 1MDB was in October 2009, Shahrol Azral said it was the Minister of Finance Inc (MoF Inc) — during a previous day of trial, the witness had told the court that Najib was equated with MoF Inc.

Meanwhile, the High Court was also told that AmBank Group purposely hid facts from 1MDB on Aktis Capital Singapore Pte Ltd and Country Group being secondary subscribers of 1MDB bonds in 2009.

Shahrol Azral told the court this, but refused to speculate on why the bank wanted to do so.

Muhammad Shafee: So, you are going on record that you were never informed by AmBank Group that Aktis and Country Group were involved as secondary subscribers?

Shahrol Azral: Yes.

Muhammad Shafee: Although now you know, we got the agreement which will be tendered in court?

Shahrol Azral: Although I know now.

The 49-year-old witness then agreed to Muhammad Shafee’s suggestion that given the hindsight of the situation now, AmBank Group had purposely hidden the facts.

The court also heard that Jho Low was behind Aktis Capital and Country Group.

Earlier, the witness testified that the 1MDB board of directors had summoned AmBank Group to explain why 1MDB only received RM4.3 billion for its RM5 billion Islamic medium-term notes, instead of its face value.

Shahrol Azral also said the presentation by an AmBank officer to the board did not reveal about Aktis and Country Group being 1MDB’s secondary bond subscribers.

“We were only told that 1MDB bonds were subscribed by the EPF (Employees Provident Fund), Socso (Social Security Organisation) and insurance companies,” he said.

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.

Senior deputy public prosecutor and former Federal Court Judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram led the prosecution team.

Hearing before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues. — Bernama