KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 3 — Fugitive financier Low Taek Jho was considered a confidante of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s family and was especially close to Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, the High Court was told today.
An ex-aide to the former prime minister, Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin, testified as the eighth prosecution witness in Najib’s main 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption trial.
“To my knowledge, Datuk Seri Najib’s family, including Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor also shared close relations with Jho (Low) because I noticed Jho Low often received phone calls from Datin Seri Rosmah; however, I am unsure of and never found out the details of the conversations,” he said.
He also disclosed that Low or Jho Low was represented to him as an unofficial advisor to Najib at the time.
Amhari detailed his first meeting with Low in 2007 at a restaurant in Georgetown, Penang, where he was introduced to the latter by one Dennis See, who was then a communications officer to Datuk Seri Mohd Effendi Norwawi, the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of the Economic Planning Unit at the time.
“While we were seated at the restaurant, a man of Chinese ethnicity dressed in a batik shirt was introduced to me by Dennis See, who identified himself as Jho Low.
“During the meeting, I found that Jho (Low) spoke about Datuk Seri Najib’s family as though he was in the inner-circle of Datuk Seri Najib and Datin Seri Rosmah’s family,” he said while reading from his witness statement.
Amhari said Low, during several meetings they had, personally told him of his close relations to Najib’s family.
“Jho (Low) often spoke about how he would frequently meet up with Datuk Seri Najib’s family, where it seemed that sometimes he knew about detailed plans concerning Datuk Seri Najib’s family affairs, plans that were even beyond my knowledge when I was Datuk Seri Najib’s special officer,” he said.
Amhari further said that Low had even sent a personal message congratulating him when he was appointed as Najib’s special officer when Najib was still the deputy prime minister in 2008.
“When I reported for duty my first day as the deputy prime minister’s special officer in September 2008, Jho (Low) contacted me via text message which roughly said ‘Bro, I heard you are in TPM (deputy prime minister), congratulations and we will be closely in touch’”.
“I am certain Jho (Low) found out that I started working at the TPM’s office either through Datuk Seri Najib or Datin Seri Rosmah because he was close to them and met up with them often,” he said.
The former aide then said Low had told him that the close relations he shared with Najib’s family were due to his relationship with Riza Shariz Abdul Aziz, widely known as Riza Aziz, saying they have been friends since their teenage years.
“Riza then introduced Jho (Low) to Datin Seri Rosmah. Low had also said that Datin Seri Rosmah had no issues with him sharing a close relationship with members of her family,” he said reading out his witness statement.
In this trial, Najib is facing four counts of abusing his position for his own financial benefit totalling almost RM2.3 billion from the sovereign investment fund and the resulting 21 counts of money-laundering.
The trial resumes tomorrow morning before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.