KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 16 — There is a “possibility” that former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was unknowingly manipulated by fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, the High Court heard today.
Former 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) former chief executive Datuk Shahrol Ibrahim Halmi agreed with defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah’s suggestion that Low or Jho Low had manipulated the flow of information by omitting or even fabricating documents to create a façade that the sovereign wealth funds are investing in legitimate companies or investment opportunities.
Shafee then suggested to Shahrol that if Low could deceive professional members of the 1MDB board of directors by unknowingly aiding him with his scheme to defraud the sovereign wealth fund, the financier could have also done the same to Najib, which Shahrol agreed.
Shafee: If a team of professionals, you included, unfortunately, could be manipulated, do you have a good reason to think the prime minister could not have been manipulated?
Shahrol: I don’t have access to all the facts, so from my limited sphere from what I know, it seems, to use your word Tan Sri (Shafee), the manipulation was done with the very good disguise that this is for the good of the country, this is the good of the prime minister, this is important for the prime minister. But I don’t know what the prime minister then knew.
Shafee: Even if you do not know, because of what you have experienced, Jho Low in his orchestrating without some of the participant knowing, there is a distinct possibility that the prime minister himself does not know?
Shahrol: That the prime minister himself was one of the players?
Shafee: Correct. Without (Najib) knowing where is the orchestra going?
Shahrol: Well based on what I see, there is definitely that possibility.
Shafee had earlier produced several documents pertaining to 1MDB’s abortive joint venture with PetroSaudi International Ltd (PSI).
Shafee had quizzed Shahrol on whether the senior management had conducted due diligence to scrutinise whether PSI was indeed a legitimate entity and have official links to the Saudi Royal family.
Shahrol explained that at the time, 1MDB did not possess formal documentation of due diligence on PSI but had only conducted “oral due diligence” on the entity.
Shahrol further explained that any information 1MDB had on PSI was provided by the supposed Saudi owned firmed itself. The information includes when the company was formed and its investment portfolio.
However, Shafee later produced the list of investment that PSI purportedly had, which included oil and gas facilities in Venezuela, Turkmenistan and Argentina, all of which the lawyer claimed to be only “hot air” with no substantial backing that was genuine.
Last month, Najib’s former special officer Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin had testified in court that Low could have doctored letters of support from various international financial firms and even the Saudi Arabian government that claimed to prove PSI to be a legitimate entity.
Amhari said the letters surfaced between late 2014 and early 2015 as a means of “damage control” after the 1MDB scandal.