by BERNAMA / pic by BERNAMA
The High Court today heard that a series of meetings were held between fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low and other key figures in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal to embezzle millions of dollars from the sovereign wealth fund.
The contention was made by lawyer Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed during cross-examination on former 1MDB chief executive officer, Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi (picture) in Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s RM2.3 billion 1MDB graft trial.
The ninth prosecution witness, however, denied that he was present in such meetings, which was also allegedly attended by ex-Goldman Sachs bankers Tim Leissner and Roger Ng, 1MBD’s chief financial officer Terence Geh and general counsel Jasmine Loo.
Yesterday, the court heard that Goldman Sachs was appointed to represent 1MDB in February 2012 in the acquisition of Tanjong Energy Holdings Sdn Bhd.
Wan Aizuddin: In order to embezzle the money with the assistance of Goldman Sachs, you were tasked by Jho Low and Roger Ng to ensure Goldman Sachs was appointed as financial advisor of 1MDB?
Shahrol Azral: I disagree.
Wan Aizuddin: I put it to you, that you had actively supported all of Goldman Sachs proposals in all of 1MDB board of directors meetings including the overpriced Tanjong Energy acquisition?
Shahrol Azral: I disagree.
Wan Aizuddin: I put to you that those mentioned schemes to embezzle the money from 1MDB because you were promised kickbacks.
Shahrol Azral also disagreed to the suggestion.
Earlier, Wan Aizuddin was referring the witness to minutes during earlier days of 1MDB, when the sovereign wealth fund was still known as Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), where the Terengganu palace had raised questions about Jho Low in a meeting that Shahrol Azral attended.
Wan Aizuddin: The reason why I’m showing you this was based on the view of the palace, they were worried Jho Low would misuse the palace’s name. At this point, even if you believe Jho Low was working at the company’s best interest, wouldn’t this trigger your suspicion?
Shahrol Azral: Jho Low had informed me that this issue would come up, so it didn’t trigger any suspicion in my mind.
Wan Aizuddin: I honestly find this unbelievable. You were dealing with the palace yet you still choose to believe Jho Low out of all people?
Shahrol Azral: Yes.
Further questioned by the lawyer, the witness again reiterated that Jho Low was acting in good faith and denied being in complicit with Jho Low to defraud 1MDB’s monies.
The court also heard that there was no enquiry conducted against Terence when US$500 million (RM1.8 billion at that time) was transferred out from 1MDB account in 2012.
Wan Aizuddin: He (Terence) came up with this amount, I mean with the instruction letter, you agreed and signed?
Shahrol Azral: Yes
The witness also replied in negative to the lawyer’s suggestion that he has breached fiduciary duty to act for the best interest of the company.
Najib, 67, 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 trial before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues tomorrow.