KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 26 — 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) former chief executive Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi was “surprised” over his sudden transfer to the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) in 2013, despite airing his dissatisfaction over the firm’s unfinished projects, the High Court heard today.
Testifying against Najib at the latter’s 1MDB corruption trial, Shahrol said he had received queries from financier Low Taek Jho or Jho Low on whether he was interested in moving to Pemandu to which he responded that he prefers to oversee projects in 1MDB to completion.
Shahrol was answering additional questions by senior public prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram on the circumstances of his departure as 1MDB chief executive.
Sri Ram: What were the circumstances leading to you leaving?
Shahrol: At the end of 2012, Jho had asked me whether I was interested in moving up to Pemandu. I had at that time feedback to him that I serve at the pleasure of the prime minister and if the prime minister wishes for me to go, I will go.
However, I did tell him that I felt that there was so many things left undone in 1MDB, mainly the real estate projects, Tun Razak Exchange and Bandar Malaysia as well as our plan to improve the IPP (independent power producer) environment in Malaysia.
Sri Ram: What was the outcome?
Shahrol: I was surprised to be informed by Tan Sri Lodin at around February or January board meeting on 2013 where Tan Sri Lodin informed the board that I was about to be moved to Pemandu. I received my appointment letter to Pemandu in the month of February stating that my effective date as the director in Pemandu is March 15.
Shahrol was referring to then 1MDB chairman Tan Sri Che Lodin Wok Kamaruddin.
Shahrol had also served as 1MDB’s predecessor, Terengganu Investment Authority’s chief executive before.
1MDB lack of monies to fund local projects
Earlier in the day, Shahrol explained in court that 1MDB had asked for an extra loan from Ambank and Standard Chartered via syndicated term loan for RM2.5 billion to fund local projects.
However, PetroSaudi International (PSI) had requested an additional investment of US$500 million and US$330 million from 1MDB which was paid by funds obtained by the syndicated loans.
At one point, Shahrol explained how 1MDB was taking on more debts to “invest” by giving out loans to PSI, saying: “So we are borrowing money to lend money to PSI”.
Shahrol said he even told Low that 1MDB had lacked the monies to fund local projects such as Tun Razak Exchange and Bandar Malaysia much less investing more into overseas energy assets which PSI is purportedly eyeing.
He even asks Low’s help to negotiate with PSI to delay or reduce the amount they requested.