Jho Low gave RM70,000 to help increase TIA shares, money used to sponsor orphans

Former CEO of Terengganu Investment Authority Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court September 24, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Former CEO of Terengganu Investment Authority Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court September 24, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 24 — Fugitive financier Low Taek Jho had given a cash advance of RM70,000 to allow Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) to increase its share capital to RM1 billion, the High Court Heard today.

Testifying against Datuk Seri Najib Razak in the latter’s 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption trial, TIA's former Chief Executive Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi said Low had deposited the funds directly into his bank to pay the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) in order to increase TIA’s share capital.

Shahrol was answering questions by senior deputy public prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram who asked him about the RM70,000 paid by TIA in May 2009.

Sri Ram: Did the company have the RM70,000 at the time?

Shahrol: No, not at that time.

Sri Ram: So, where was the money obtained?

Shahrol: I raised it with TIA adviser Jho Low and he’s the one who gave me RM70,000 to SSM to increase our share capital.

Sri Ram: Do you remember how the payment made?

Shahrol: I remember actually because I told him about it, it is a matter of some urgency because we needed to fulfil the condition. The very next day the money appeared in my bank account.

Sri Ram: How did it appear?

Shahrol: It wasn’t a cheque payment. I believe it was a cash deposit.

Shahrol then said he provided the RM70,000 to TIA in the form of a director’s loan, adding that the company had later reimbursed him from the RM5 billion funds raised via bonds.

Sri Ram then asked what Shahrol did with the RM70,000 that was reimbursed to him, with Shahrol saying that he attempted to return the money to Low but did not succeed.

Shahrol: I told Jho Low your money is with me. I wanted to give it back to him, he said never mind. Actually he didn’t say never mind, he said ‘later, later’. After a while, I stopped asking and I used the money for charity purposes. I remember one specifically, Upin and Ipin show at Istana Budaya and I sponsored a whole bunch of orphans to go and see it.

Shahrol revealed in court yesterday that TIA, which was a RM2 company in its early days, it did not have any funds and was unable to get credit as a new company.

Shahrol yesterday spoke of how Low as TIA adviser had pressured for the RM5 billion borrowing via Islamic Medium Term Notes (IMTN) to be done quickly, and that the latter had cited alleged push from the Terengganu state government and Najib to the federal government to expedite the fund-raising for the company that had started operations without any money.

On May 5, 2009, the Finance Ministry issued a letter to TIA to inform of five conditions to be fulfilled for Putrajaya to give its government guarantee for the RM5 billion, including to have the TIA always owned by the Terengganu government’s Mentri Besar Incorporated.

The other conditions were for the Finance Ministry to have a special share in TIA and for the ministry to approve all IMTN documents; a letter of comfort to be issued by the Terengganu state government; and for TIA to increase its capital to RM200 million within 90 days of the issuance of the first IMTN.

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