In court, former 1MDB CEO denies being part of alleged ‘criminal scheme’ with Goldman Sachs, other officials to defraud sovereign wealth fund

Former 1MDB CEO Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex August 3, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Former 1MDB CEO Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex August 3, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 3 — Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi today denied being involved in an alleged “criminal scheme’’ along with US investment bank Goldman Sachs and other top officials from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) to defraud the sovereign wealth fund.

Taking the stand as the ninth prosecution witness against Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Shahrol, who was 1MDB’s former chief executive, denied he had personally benefited illicitly from a transaction of US$790 million (RM3.3 billion) from the firm to a company now revealed to be a fake entity with a strikingly similar name to Abu Dhabi firm Aabar Investments PJS.

The fake firm in question is located in the British Virgin Islands and named Aabar Investments PJS Limited and is reported to be controlled by fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low.

Under cross-examination by Najib’s lawyer, Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed, Shahrol had also denied the accusation that he and other top officials from 1MDB had intentionally omitted Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC)’s name as the guarantor for a US$1.75 billion bond or borrowing by 1MDB as a means to mislead the firm’s board of directors.

Wan Aizuddin: I put it to you that there is no need for any real justification for the transfer of US$790,354,855 in favour of Aabar Investments Limited?

Shahrol: Disagree.

Wan Aizuddin: I put it to you the reason why the US$790-odd million was transferred to Aabar investment PJS limited and you did not object was because you were part of a criminal scheme together with Jho Low, Jasmine Loo, Terrence Geh, Azmi and officers from Goldman Sachs to embezzle millions of dollars from 1MDB?

Shahrol: I disagree.

Wan Aizuddin: I put it to you, that you, Jho Low, Jasmine Loo and Terrence Geh have personally benefited from the transactions?

Shahrol: Disagree.

Wan Aizuddin: I put it to you Datuk, that you have conspired with Goldman Sachs, Azmi, Jasmine Loo and Terrence Geh to fill a guarantee structure where IPIC’s name was used or obviously used as a guarantor for the US$1.75 billion bonds issued by 1MDB Energy Langat Limited?

Shahrol:  Disagree.

Wan Aizuddin: I put it to you Datuk, this is a scheme to embezzle millions of dollars from 1MDB and to mislead the board of directors and the shareholders of 1MDB that you, Azmi, Jasmine Loo and Terrence Geh agreed with Goldman Sachs to conceal the guarantee structure and not to include the guarantee structure in any of the bond documentation such as private placement memorandum, arranger agreement and not to raise in the board of directors meeting nor any of its DCR (director circular resolution)?

Shahrol: Disagree.

Wan Aizuddin was referring to former 1MDB chief financial officer (CFO) Azmi Tahir, 1MDB deputy CFO Terence Geh, and 1MDB’s legal officer Jasmine Loo Ai Swan.

Shahrol had previously testified that the US$790 million transactions were linked to 1MDB’s RM2.75 billion purchase in 2012 of a 100 per cent stake in Mastika Lagenda Sdn Bhd, a company which held a 75 per cent stake in Genting Sanyen Power Sdn Bhd, which in turn owns the Genting Sanyen Kuala Langat Power Station.

Shahrol had testified that he had previously signed an agreement on October 19, 2012, between 1MDB Energy Holdings Limited and the fake Aabar that justified a security deposit payment to the latter.

Shahrol again signed on with the purported IPIC subsidiary as, he said, its name did not have very significant differences with the real Aabar’s name.

On the same day of the October 19, 2012 agreement signing, a sum of US$1.64 billion from the US$1.75 billion bond went into 1MDB Energy (Langat) Ltd account also at the Falcon Bank in Hong Kong, but this was paid out on the same day in two transactions: US$692,174,991 or over US$692 million to Genting Power Holdings for the IPP takeover, and US$790,354,855 as security deposit to the fake Aabar.

(This time, the US$790 million, which Shahrol had again remarked was a relatively huge sum, is 45 per cent or almost half of the US$1.75 billion raised.)

Having again believed that Najib and IPIC had already agreed on the security deposit, Shahrol said he thought the US$790 million would be returned when an IPO was held, but noted the money was never returned even after 1MDB failed to list its energy business on the stock market.

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