The High Court today was told that Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (picture) did not quite like the name “MIB”, an acronym for Malaysian Investment Berhad thus resulting in the change to 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Berhad) in August 2009.
Former chief executive officer of 1MDB, Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi said the discussion to change the name of Terengganu Investment Authority Berhad (TIA) to 1MDB had been done during the period of July until August 2009.
He said this while being referred to TIA minutes of meeting on Aug 12, 2009 chaired by Deputy Secretary General of Treasury (Policy) Datuk Latifah Abu Mansor regarding TIA takeover from the federal government by Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
The ninth prosecution witness, Shahrol Azral, 49, confirmed he attended the meeting with 1MDB former executive director, Casey Tang and said it was merely an administrative issue.
Testifying in Najib’s trial involving 1MDB funds, Shahrol Azral said fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low had suggested the 1MDB board of directors to follow the name of Mubadala Group of Abu Dhabi template as close as possible.
“We explored a few alternatives and that was how we came up with the name “MDB”, as it was pretty close to Mubadala,” he said.
When queried by Muhammad Shafee whether Najib had an opinion on the name change, the witness said Najib was interested in the detail as he was involved but it was solely based on what Jho Low had told him (about Najib).
“I was instructed to formalise this and in order to do that I needed to write a letter, put it in black and white to get it done,” he said.
Muhammad Shafee then referred the witness to a TIA director’s circular resolution (DCR) on Aug 27, 2009 to convene a special board meeting held in Royale Chulan Damansara shortly before TIA’s official name change to 1MDB on Sept 4 that same year.
Shahrol Azral said the purpose of the meeting was to listen to a proposal from Ambank on Interest Rate Swap (IRS).
“Earlier when we issued the RM5 billion Islamic Medium Term Notes (IMTN) bond, we had committed to an interest rate at 5.75 per cent.
“AmBank wanted to introduce a product for us to effectively pay a lower floating interest rate compared to the 5.75 per cent, with fees and of course a little bit of risk as it floats and the bad thing is it might go higher,” he said.
Earlier, after a short break during the proceedings, the witness had asked for Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah’s indulgence to be released from the afternoon session as he was feeling down and under the weather.
Muhammad Shafee responded a few witness who previously took the stand had suffered the same symptoms throughout the trial.
“We take note of it and have moved the air conditioning away from him,” Muhammad Shafee says jokingly.
Justice Sequerah allowed Shahrol Azral to take leave and the trial will resume on Monday morning.
Najib was charged with four counts of using his position to obtain RM2.3 billion bribe in the 1MDB fund and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same money.