1MDB signed US$1 billion agreement with unknown company, Court told

by BERNAMA/ pic by TMR

The trial of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak over the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) funds heard that 1MDB had wrongly inked a joint-venture agreement worth US$1 billion with a company purportedly owned by fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low.

The sovereign wealth fund had been in talks with oil services and production company PetroSaudi International Ltd (PSI) but it signed an agreement with PetroSaudi Holdings (Cayman) Ltd instead in 2009.

Former chief executive officer of 1MDB, Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, 49, testified that there was a legal team from Wong & Partners led by Casey Tang that went through the agreement and they did not indicate any suspicion.

The ninth prosecution witness was being cross-examined by Najib’s lawyer, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, on the 23rd day of the former prime minister’s trial.

Muhammad Shafee: You must have noted the agreement before you signed. If not, you were signing away US$1 billion in 2009. This was a very expensive agreement with a different company. Did you ask Casey whether you could sign the agreement

You were the CEO, wouldn’t you take the first shot if anything went wrong How do you explain that to the board (of 1MDB)

Shahrol Azral: Casey Tang was the most experienced in the 1MDB matter, and everything was in order and he indicated that there was nothing wrong with it. Casey worked with Wong & Partners on this matter.

Muhammad Shafee: I would be terrified if I were in your position unless I verified. Didn’t you ask for further clarification

Shahrol Azral: I clarified with Casey.

Muhammad Shafee: And you were quite happy with that

Shahrol Azral: Yes.

Muhammad Shafee: I put it to you that on hindsight, do you agree that this was a silly decision

Shahrol Azral: On hindsight, I could have done things differently but I wouldn’t say it was a silly decision. I relied on Casey. He advised me to do so.

Muhammad Shafee: Did you check this matter with Wong & Partners such as in a written opinion on it

Shahrol Azral: No

Muhammad Shafee: If you had done that, you would not come under suspicion Correct

Shahrol Azral: Correct

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 High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues tomorrow with senior deputy public prosecutor and former Federal Court judge, Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram leading the prosecution.