Minutes show Jho Low attended Sept 2009 board meeting, ex-company secretary tells court in 1MDB audit trial

Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Sept 29, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Sept 29, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 — The businessman Low Taek Jho was recorded as present in the minutes of a 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) board meeting held on September 26, 2009 at the Royale Bintang Damansara Hotel, the High Court was told today.

Former 1MDB company secretary Lim Poh Seng was the 10th prosecution witness called to the stand in the trial where Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Arul Kanda Kandasamy are jointly accused of tampering with a 2015 audit report of the sovereign investment fund.

Lim told the court that he was not present in the meeting but the minutes prepared by the company’s then investment director Kelvin Tan Kay Jin clearly recorded Low — popularly known as Jho Low — as being present.

“This is the meeting minutes of the Special Board Meeting of 1MDB at Royale Bintang Damansara on 26th September 2009. According to the minutes, the meeting was chaired by Datuk Mohd Bakke Salleh and present at the meeting were Tan Sri Che Lodin [Wok Kamaruddin], Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, Tan Sri Azlan Zainol, Datuk Ismee smail, Mr Low Taek Jho (Jho Low) and Casey Tang Keng Chee.

“I was not present at the meeting as the company secretary because I was on leave. The minutes were prepared by Kelvin Tan,” Lim said.

Lim told the court that he was first appointed as the company secretary of Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) Berhad since its incorporation on February 27, 2009.

He remained in the position when the company changed its name to 1MDB on September 25 that same year.

His duties as the company secretary were to render advisory services to the company and to record the board meeting minutes, among other things.

He explained that all meeting minutes will be circulated to the board of directors and subsequently signed for verification by the chairman, with the official records maintained by him in the capacity as the company secretary.

Lim also told the court that he was not surprised to see Low’s name in the meeting minutes, when asked by prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram.

Under cross examination by Najib’s lawyer Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed, Lim explained that he was approached by Low to become the company secretary.

He detailed that Low had approached B&M Consultancy Services Sdn Bhd, where he was then employed, to seek their company secretarial services prior to the formation of TIA.

Lim resigned as the company secretary on March 31, 2011. He was succeeded by Goh Gaik Kim.

Last month, 1MDB former investment director Tan told the court that Low attended the September 26, 2009 1MDB board meeting, but was unclear on the latter’s official role and capacity.

In court, Tan was also shown a different version of the minutes of the meeting dated September 26, 2009 by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in the latter’s investigation. In that version, Low’s name had been removed.

In November last year, Tan Sri Ambrin Buang, who was the auditor-general tasked with auditing 1MDB in 2015, spoke about government auditors’ findings on whether Low had attended the September 26, 2009 meeting.

Ambrin said the government auditors from the National Audit Department (NAD) had initially discovered at 1MDB’s office during checks of 1MDB meeting minutes that there was a September 26, 2009 meeting minute that listed “Low Taek Jho” as an attendee.

But Ambrin said the NAD was not allowed by 1MDB to make a copy of the document at the time.

Ambrin also said he had then invited all members of the 1MDB board, including Mohd Bakke, to the NAD office for interviews ― to verify if Low had attended the 1MDB board meeting.

Ambrin said that Mohd Bakke had confirmed Low’s was indeed in attendance during the directors’ meeting on September 26, 2009 when the investment to issue Islamic Medium-Term Notes (IMTN) was made.

In this trial, Najib is accused of having misused his positions as prime minister and finance minister to order for the 1MDB audit report changes to avoid civil or criminal action, while 1MDB former chief executive Arul Kanda Kandasamy is accused of having helped Najib commit the alleged offence.

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