Jho Low facilitates phone call between 1MDB chairman and Najib, court told

Jho Low did so after his presence in the board meeting was questioned by Che Lodin, the witness says

by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by TMR FILE

FUGITIVE businessman Jho Low (picture) had passed his phone to former 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) chairman Tan Sri Mohd Bakke Salleh with former prime minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak on the line during a board meeting, the court told.

In the 1MDB audit report tampering trial, former investments director at Terengganu Investment Authority Kelvin Tan Kay Jin testified that Jho Low, did so in the meeting on Sept 26, 2009, which former 1MDB’s directors, Tan Sri Che Lodin Wok Kamaruddin, Tan Sri Azlan Mohd Zainol, Tan Sri Ismee Ismail and former 1MDB’s business development ED Casey Tang Keng Chee among the attendees.

Tan, the eighth prosecution witness, told the High Court that the attendance of Jho Low, whose real name is Low Taek Jho, in the board meeting was questioned by Che Lodin, in which Jho Low answered that he had a role in the “Board of Advisors”.

Najib’s lead defence counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah queried about Jho Low’s purpose of attending the board meeting.

Muhammad Shafee: Why Jho Low’s name was not stated in the attendance list? What was his contribution to the meeting?

Tan: I can’t recall.

Muhammad Shafee: For sure, he did not come there to show his pretty face. I have to trigger your memories. Jho Low must have said something in the meeting. Otherwise, what is the point of him attending the meeting?

Tan: Yes, at one point, Tan Sri Lodin asked Jho Low what he was doing there (meeting) and Jho Low passed his phone to Tan Sri Bakke and said the PM was on the line… and I recalled Tan Sri Bakke being surprised that it was the PM.

However, the witness said he could not recall what had triggered Jho Low to pass his phone to Mohd Bakke to talk to the PM.

During re-examination by deputy public prosecutor Mohamad Mustaffa P Kunyalam, the witness confirmed that the PM he was referring to was Najib.

On another matter, the witness said he was named as one of the defendants in a lawsuit filed by 1MDB against its former employees and directors.

Najib is charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was presented to the Public Accounts Committee to avoid any action being taken against him, while former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy is charged with abetting Najib in making changes to the report to protect Najib from being subjected to action.

They were charged under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009, which provides a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of no less than five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

The trial continues on Sept 9.