KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 — A former chief financial officer of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) today said Datuk Seri Najib Razak did not call him up after he had carried out the instructions given by Najib’s aide or Low Taek Jho in relation 1MDB affairs.

Azmi Tahir, a former 1MDB CFO, said this while testifying as the 12th prosecution witness in Najib’s trial over the misappropriation of more than RM2 billion of 1MDB funds.

Azmi confirmed that he “definitely” did not obtain even a single sen of the funds that were siphoned out and misappropriated from 1MDB, also stressing that he had “definitely not” conspired with Low or 1MDB’s management team to siphon money from 1MDB. 

Stressing that he definitely did not obtain any financial benefit from Low — otherwise known as Jho Low — or from any of the transactions in the 1MDB scheme, Azmi also confirmed that he does not know whether there were any arrangements between Najib and Low about the use of 1MDB funds.

Azmi agreed with lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram that he had previously testified that he did not verify with Najib whether instructions from his principal private secretary — the late Datuk Azlin Alias — had come from Najib.

Azmi then confirmed that he did follow what Azlin asked him to do on 1MDB matters.

Sri Ram: Did you follow what Azlin asked you to do?

Azmi: Yes, I did.

Sri Ram: After you had, did the accused Najib ever query you why you had done such a thing?

Azmi: No, never.

Confirming he had also acted on Low’s instructions on 1MDB matters, Azmi told Sri Ram that this was because “I believe it came from Datuk Seri Najib, he was acting as his representative”.

Sri Ram: When you acted on what Jho Low told you to do, did Datuk Seri Najib reprimand you for having done it?

Azmi: No, never. 

Earlier today, Sri Ram noted that Azmi had previously testified in court that he did not go to Najib to raise his concerns about 1MDB, before going on to ask if Najib had ever reprimanded Azmi over 1MDB matters.

Sri Ram: My question to you is, throughout the period when you served in 1MDB, when you did what you did and what you have been accused of doing, did Datuk Seri Najib ever reprimand you in respect of any of the transactions?

Azmi: No, never. Like I said before, my contract was renewed.

Azmi had joined 1MDB as CFO in June 2012 for an initial three-year contract until 2015, and he had later agreed to have his contract extended for another two years. Azmi left 1MDB in 2017 when the contract was not further extended.

Azmi had previously also said that Low had told him that all instructions from Low and Azlin are ‘mandates’ from Najib, adding that he had subsequently verified with Azlin that Low’s instructions were correct. — Picture via Facebook
Azmi had previously also said that Low had told him that all instructions from Low and Azlin are ‘mandates’ from Najib, adding that he had subsequently verified with Azlin that Low’s instructions were correct. — Picture via Facebook

Najib as PM could have called me up on 1MDB, but he didn’t

Azmi also confirmed that Najib could have called him up over 1MDB matters, but that Najib did not do so while he was still working in 1MDB as CFO.

Sri Ram: In your working experience, did Datuk Seri Najib as the chairman of board of advisers have any opportunity to call you up and question you on these irregularities?

Azmi: Yeah, definitely he could have, he was the prime minister anyway. But I don’t recall any occasion when he called the board or management to question all these acquisitions that came up in the press or overseas. Never.

Sri Ram: You mean the questionable transactions?

Azmi: I mean the issues taken up in the paper, but I don’t ever recall him calling us to ask about these things.

Sri Ram: Leaving aside the others, did he call you?

Azmi: No, no, not on those questions.

Sri Ram: If he wanted to, he could have?

Azmi: He was the prime minister.

Sri Ram: If he had called you, you would have gone.

Azmi: I don’t see how I could have refused.

Later, Azmi confirmed from documents that billions of ringgit originating from 1MDB or from loans that 1MDB had borrowed were shown to have ended up being transferred to two bank accounts belonging to Najib, and that he was not aware that such funds had been received by Najib and that the latter did not disclose having received such funds.

Previously, Azmi had said Low was not a random person that he had met on the street but that this was an individual introduced by Najib’s aide Azlin, and that he had believed Low to be a legitimate representative of Najib in 1MDB matters.

Azmi had previously also said that Low had told him that all instructions from Low and Azlin are “mandates” from Najib, adding that he had subsequently verified with Azlin that Low’s instructions were correct.

Najib’s 1MDB trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes tomorrow morning, with Azmi and former 1MDB chairman Tan Sri Mohd Bakke Salleh expected to resume testifying.