Istana Negara questioned Jho Low's role in 1MDB predecessor TIA, court told at Najib’s trial

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Complex, September 10, 2019. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Complex, September 10, 2019. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 ― The palace had expressed concerns over the role played by businessman Low Taek Jho in the Terengganu Invesment Authority (TIA) which later became 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the High Court heard today in Datuk Seri Najib Razak's corruption trial.

Najib's lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah read out excerpts from the minutes of the second TIA meeting that was held on June 30, 2009 in the Parliament building, including Istana Negara's views.

Wakil Istana Negara mempersoalkan siapa dan peranan Encik Jho Low. Pihak Istana Negara khuatir ada pihak yang telah menyalahgunakan nama SPB Yang di-Pertuan Agong,” Shafee read aloud the meeting minutes written in Bahasa Malaysia.

(Translation: Istana Negara representative questioned who and what role Jho Low has. Istana Negara is worried that there are quarters that have misused the name of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.)

At that time, Terengganu ruler Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin was the country's Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Shafee noted that Najib's former special officer Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin was recorded as present in the meeting where Low's role was raised.

Amhari, who is the eighth prosecution witness in Najib's trial, told Shafee that he did not remember this point being discussed during the June 2009 meeting.

Amhari said the meeting minutes was not given to him then as a representative of the prime minister's office, adding that he had taken notes of the meeting and briefed Najib's chief of staff.

When Shafee asked if Amhari should have informed Najib of the serious allegation against Low during the meeting, Amhari  said he was then a new officer that Najib would not even be speaking to due to his junior rank.

Later, Shafee noted that Low was one of two individuals appointed on April 8, 2009 to be the advisers of TIA.

Shafee questioned if Amhari knew Low was never an adviser to the Terengganu Sultan who was also the Agong, with Amhari then replying: "I don't know".

"He claims he was adviser to Yang di-Pertuan Agong," Amhari added.

Previously, Amhari had in his witness statement stated that Low had asked him at the end of 2008 to join in a meeting on the TIA, and that Amhari had obtained confirmation from Najib to attend the discussion on the proposal to set up TIA.

While waiting together with Low for the meeting that was later chaired by the Terengganu Sultan, Low had claimed to Amhari that he was at that time an "adviser" to the Terengganu ruler, the witness statement said.

At the time of the meeting attended by Amhari, he was serving as a special officer to Najib who was then both the deputy prime minister and finance minister.

Najib only became prime minister on April 3, 2009, a post he held until May 2018.

Today is the sixth day of Najib's trial over 1MDB.

Trial will resume before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah tomorrow.

Najib is facing four counts of abusing his position for his own financial benefit totalling almost RM2.3 billion allegedly originating from 1MDB and the resulting 21 counts of money-laundering.