Nearing tears, ex-aide to Najib recounts distress over 1MDB cover-up fears

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 — A former aide of Datuk Seri Najib Razak became emotional when testifying about his personal conflict to instructions from the former prime minister, during the latter’s main 1MDB corruption trial today

Fighting back tears, Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin paused inordinately when talking about the challenges of his role then as well as those facing his supervisor at the time, the late Datuk Azlin Alias.

With his voice cracking with emotion when explaining how Najib instructed him to visit China in 2016 purportedly to strengthen bilateral ties, Amhari claimed he considered quitting over suspicions that the trip was meant to help cover up the 1MDB scandal that was brewing then.

“At that time I felt great pressure with the situation and it crossed my mind to resign because these instructions were very challenging, and since Datuk Azlin was not around any-more...” he said before pausing to recompose himself.

“... I had no choice but to carry out his (Najib’s) instructions because he was my boss; furthermore, he was the prime minister of Malaysia,” he said when reading out his witness statement.

He described the instant as “the hardest moment of his career” notwithstanding the esteem in which he held for Najib.

Amhari also testified that he followed through with the instructions despite harbouring suspicions that it was related to 1MDB’s loan from Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC)

“I was worried I would be involved and associated in the plans of Datuk Seri Najib and Jho (Low) if it (the trip to China) was meant to cover up the losses of 1MDB funds and the repayment of debts to IPIC that involves misappropriation of 1MDB (funds) or the preparation of political funding,” he said.

Amhari then steadied himself and went on to detail how his assignment in China, according to Najib’s brief, was aimed at improving economic cooperation between Malaysia and China.

Describing the instructions as “confidential”, however, he noted that they came after news of the alleged misappropriation at 1MDB had become public.

He said Najib directed him to verify Malaysia’s economic ties in China and the latter nation’s investment interest, but said fugitive financier Low Taek Jho had contradicted this through other communications.

“Despite that, on the contrary and similar to what was shown to me by Jho (Low) through his talking points and actions plans, this agreement and the joint venture was an investment that would aid in repaying 1MDB’s bailouts, such as their debts to IPIC,” he said.

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