ECRL, two pipeline projects meant to bail out 1MDB, says Najib’s ex-aide

Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s former aide Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court September 4, 2019.  — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s former aide Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court September 4, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 — The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), the Trans-Sabah Gas Pipeline and the Multi-Product Pipeline (MPP) that sought investments from China were proposed projects to bail out debt-riddled 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and its former subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd, the High Court heard today.

Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin, who formerly worked as special officer to Datuk Seri Najib Razak, testified in the latter’s 1MDB trial that the ex-prime minister had made offers to the China-owned companies while clearly aware of the Malaysian sovereign investment firm’s financial woes.

“Datuk Seri Najib offered state enterprise companies to be involved in these infrastructure projects, while at the same time solving the issue of 1MDB and SRC International’s debts.

“The sentence ‘while simultaneously completely resolving 1MDB and SRC (International) debts’ clearly meant that Datuk Seri Najib intended to send the message that this cooperation would also aid 1MDB and SRC International through the bailouts of 1MDB’s debts,” Amhari said, referring to talking points of a meeting he attended in capacity as Najib’s special envoy with Chinese representatives in June 2016.

Ahmari went on a diplomatic visit to China that year together with Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low.

The former Najib aide said he and Low were the only representatives for Malaysia in those meetings with Chinese representatives, but added that Low did most of the talking as the conversations were in Mandarin.

When referring to a report from the meeting in court, Amhari told the court how among the terms agreed upon was for the Chinese State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) to handle and address the issue of 1MDB and SRC International debts.

“Based on this document, during the meeting with officers from SASAC on June 29, 2016, among the issues raised was concerning the debts of 1MDB and SRC International where SASAC and China’s SOEs will finalise the agreement to settle the issue of debts from 1MDB and SRC International before the end of August 2016,” he read from his statement.

Other documents presented in court today included one that Amhari said was a debt resolution plan for 1MDB and SRC International and prepared by Low titled “Action Point: China-Malaysia Economic Programme”.

Amhari, reading from his witness statement, detailed that among the points within the economic programme was for former 1MDB director Terrence Geh, referred to in today’s statement as Heng, was appointed the coordinator of the bailout negotiations between Malaysia and China.

“I verify this document shows under paragraph 1 that Jho Low planned for Datuk Seri Najib to entrust the role to Heng as the overall coordinator of the 1MDB/SRC ‘debt resolution programme’, while attending meetings concerning SASAC from China, and additionally, Heng would also forward to me periodic reports concerning this program.

Amhari then explained how he would receive regular updates from Low concerning the status of negotiations with their Chinese partners, before informing and updating Najib on its statuses.

After he was done reading his witness statement, Amhari was then questioned by appointed prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, who as how he had come to the conclusion that Low had prepared the documents for action plans related to the cooperation between Malaysia and Chinese state-owned companies.

He was also asked why made him believe that the cooperation had the approval of Najib to do so.

“This is because after listening to instructions from Najib, immediately there was a follow-up by Jho Low.

“And those two individuals are the only people I dealt with for the whole trip (to China) and that is how I concluded it,” he said.

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.

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