Ex-1MDB CEO feared Najib, unable to tell the truth to MACC

The 10th prosecution witness also says he believed instructions that he received were from the former PM


FORMER 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) CEO Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman (picture) said he did not tell the truth about the company to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) during an investigation in 2015 because he feared Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak.

In the 1MDB trial, the 10th prosecution witness said he believed instructions that he received were from the former prime minister (PM) and he was afraid to disclose the whole truth about the inner workings of 1MDB to the authorities as Najib was still in power then.

Lead defence counsel Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah disputed Mohd Hazem’s claim, saying he was part of the whole business dealings.

Muhammad Shafee: I’m saying that your statement that you were terrified of the PM is false.

Mohd Hazem: It’s my opinion.

Muhammad Shafee: The only way you can be there for so long was that you were a part of it. I’m putting it to you.

Mohd Hazem: No. I disagree. Muhammad Shafee raised an issue that the CEO received a bonus of RM2.73 million when he left 1MDB.

Muhammad Shafee: Doesn’t it strike you as a comedy that for all the criminal things you were asked to do, you were rewarded with RM2.7 million?

Mohd Hazem: Yes. The witness also told the court that some advice given by fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, on financial matters in 1MDB did not always make sense.

Generally, he said Jho Low’s advice was linked to doing things at high speed where some made sense and others might not.

He said the advice was received through Blackberry Messenger chats or face-to-face meetings, but they were done outside of the office.

“Actually, Jho Low cannot appear at 1MDB. He cannot be seen to be giving advice to 1MDB, he cannot appear at the 1MDB office,” he said.

He said the face-to-face meeting, which was attended by senior officials of the sovereign wealth fund, was held at Jho Low’s apartment at 3 Kia Peng in Kuala Lumpur.

Mohd Hazem was the second CEO at 1MDB after Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, who helmed the company from 2009 to 2013.

He took over from Shahrol Azral until he resigned in 2015 and was succeeded by Arul Kanda Kandasamy.

During his tenure, Mohd Hazem mostly oversaw deals on the Tun Razak Exchange development (formerly known as Kuala Lumpur International Financial District) that involved a US$3 billion (RM12.57 billion) bond raised for a joint venture between 1MDB and Aabar Investments PJS Ltd, a fraud entity created by Jho Low in the British Virgin Islands.

Najib is facing 25 charges in the 1MDB trial — four counts of power abuse to obtain gratifications totalling RM2.3 billion linked to 1MDB and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same proceeds.

The former PM faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment, if convicted.