KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 30 — It was Datuk Seri Najib Razak himself who placed businessman Low Taek Jho in a position to influence and effectively give out instructions on 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s (1MDB) deals worth billions of ringgit, the company’s former chief executive confirmed today.
Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi — who was 1MDB CEO from 2009 to March 2013 — testified in court that he had taken instructions from Low and frequently consulted Low to obtain Najib’s purported views for major financial decisions by the Malaysian government-owned company.
This was despite Low not having any official positions in 1MDB, with Shahrol previously saying that he believed Low to be the “proxy” of Najib and to always be conveying what Najib desired as the finance minister and prime minister back then.
Today, lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram asked Shahrol about Low’s status in 1MDB.
Sri Ram: From 2009 to 2013, four years, during this time, Jho Low was not an employee of 1MDB?
Sri Ram: Yet he attended (1MDB) board meetings on invitation?
Sri Ram: He instructed Goldman Sachs and various other projects and you have said from your observation that he was close to the accused?
Close to Najib’s family
Shahrol went on to describe Low’s alleged close ties with Najib, saying: “My observation, my first interaction with Jho was as per earlier... I did not know at that time how embedded he was in Datuk Seri Najib’s household.”
“I first had the inkling in 2009 when Jho Low brought me to Datuk Seri Najib’s residence in Seri Satria, Putrajaya and after that more actions — as I outlined in my statement — led me to believe that he is simply very close to the family, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s family,” he said.
Sri Ram then asked Shahrol on who had paced Low in a position where he could interact with 1MDB, Shahrol as the CEO, Najib as the prime minister on 1MDB affairs.
“Who could have put Jho Low into that position?” Sri Ram asked.
Shahrol replied: “Datuk Seri Najib himself.”
Sri Ram: “It was the accused who put him there?”
Shahrol replied: “Yes.”
Najib’s ongoing 1MDB trial involves 25 criminal charges — 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.
Today is day 15 of the trial, and Shahrol who is the ninth prosecution witness will resume his testimony tomorrow in the trial being heard before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.