Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day Six

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The palace was upset that Low had claimed he was the adviser of the Agong, who was the Sultan of Terengganu at that time.

9.30am: The accused, former prime minister Najib Razak, enters the court and takes a seat in the front row of the public gallery.

Afif Abd Halim/TMI

Also seen are lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah as well as lead prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram.

9.37am: Najib enters the dock as proceedings begin.

9.43am: Shafee addresses the court, asking to vacate October 1-3 for the 1MDB trial as the lawyer has a murder trial on those dates. It is the murder trial of the late Cradle CEO where Shafee is representing the widow.

Sequerah says he’ll decide on whether to vacate the trial dates later this month.

9.45am: The hearing starts with Shafee asking the eighth witness, Najib’s former special officer Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin, to produce a bail bond agreement, which he was asked to obtain last week.

After Amhari tells the court that the document was handed over to the MACC investigating officer, Shafee asks him to get it from the officer for the purpose of cross-examination.

9.47am: Shafee cross-examines Amhari.

The witness is asked whether he has more documents on the US$200,000 from Jho Low.

9.50am: Amhari admits he did not declare the US$200,000 loaned to him by Low.

During cross-examination by Shafee, Amhari says that he knew Low did deals with the government, specifically the Prime Minister’s Office, Economic Planning Unit and the Finance Ministry.

Amhari: He (Low) had an interest with the government.

Shafee: And you did not declare this US$200,000 loan to the government or got permission from your principal? It could be an offence on your part?

Amhari: I did not realise, know or was clear that it was an offence.

Last week, the witness testified under cross-examination that he received the loan from Low.

10.11am: Amhari says he doesn’t know that Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company and Low invested US$1.2 billion in the Johor Iskandar project.

10.13am: Sri Ram objects to Shafee’s questioning because he wants to “refresh the witnesses’ memory”. Sri Ram says this is hearsay.

Sequerah allows Shafee’s questioning for the time being while the latter reads out a newspaper article about Iskandar to the witness.

10.23am: Amhari says he is aware that there were lots of investments in Iskandar and EPU, therefore, it was hard to keep track of investments coming in.

10.24am: Shafee compels Amhari to say if he knows or doesn’t know of the investment.

“You’re the special officer and you don’t know? Then it’s your funeral,” Shafee tells the witness when he says he can’t remember.

Shafee moves on to the formation of Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), which later became 1MDB.

10.27am: Amhari says Low wanted TIA to be a sovereign wealth fund just like Mubadala was to the UAE.

10.30am: Amhari testifies that he did not have the full knowledge of 1MDB’s debt dispute with the International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) when sent to Abu Dhabi for negotiations in 2016.

Afif Abd Halim/TMI

“To be honest, Yang Arif, I didn’t understand the full scale of IPIC issue and I was only taking instructions. I didn’t have full information of IPIC,” he says.

IPIC wanted back the US$1 billion it had extended to 1MDB when the latter could not repay a US$975 million loan by Deutsche Bank.

The witness testified last week that he was tasked by Najib to meet key people in Abu Dhabi to resolve the dispute out of court.

Under cross-examination by Shafee, Amhari also says that he was not aware that Mubadala had invested US$1.2 billion (RM5 billion) in Iskandar Malaysia in 2008.

Mubadala merged with IPIC in 2017.

Amhari also tells the court that he was not aware that the project was the ‘baby project’ of his then-boss Mohd Effendi Norwawi, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department at the time.

Effendi was in charge of the Economic Planning Unit, and Amhari had been his special officer from 2006 until 2008, prior to becoming Najib’s special officer.

Amhari testifies that he only knew that there was the Iskandar Regional Development Authority Act 2007, but did not know much about the project.

He adds that his direct involvement was limited to accompanying Effendi to meetings.

“I followed (Effendi) into the meeting, hold the files of whatever was being discussed, and see if there were any instructions from him.”

10.44am: Shafee asks Amhari if Low had suggested to him to apply to become Najib’s special officer. Amhari disagrees.

Shafee then asks if Low used his power to get Amhari the job and that’s why Low told him he got the job before the official confirmation. Amhari disagrees.

10.47am: Shafee suggests that Amhari got the job because he had worked with Low in EPU. Amhari disagrees.

Shafee: Both of you are ambitious individuals and just wanted to climb the ladder.

Amhari: I disagree.

10.50am: Court breaks for a short recess.

11.22am: Trial resumes.

Shafee shows Amhari his bail bond document from the MACC.

11.23am: Amhari says he was arrested under the MACC 2009 Act for offences of which he’s not aware.

11.29am: They are going through Amhari’s witness statement to establish that he only took instructions from Najib and no one else.

Shafee asks Amhari how he knew that Low was close to Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor, as mentioned in his witness statement.

11.31am: Amhari says there were several occasions when he was in meetings with Low and the latter would receive calls from Rosmah.

Rosmah also spoke fondly of Low in the times Amhari met her.

Shafee: Did you attend any functions or meetings where you saw these close relationship?

Amhari: Yes, some functions and meet-ups. There were several.

Shafee: What transpired to make you conclude they were close?

Amhari: For some private functions that Najib or Rosmah organised, Low was invited. These were exclusive parties. Most of the guests were close to the couple.

Shafee: How many people attended the functions?

Amhari: Around a hundred people.

12.10pm: The court hears from Amhari that Najib was briefed on the ‘frequently asked questions’ document prepared by Jho Low suggesting that he was not involved with 1MDB.

Amhari says that Najib was briefed on the matter by the late Azlin Alias before his death on April 4, 2015.

Although not specifying the exact date, Amhari – who served as Najib’s special officer at the time – said he was present at the briefing.

The witness was asked by Shafee to provide examples of instructions from Low that he or Azlin had checked with Najib on.

However, Amhari tells the court that he cannot remember if the FAQ document was shown to Najib at the time, nor if the document was destroyed the night before, as Low had ordered.

Shafee disputes the witness’ testimony, however. He suggests that Amhari would not be able to remember what Azlin told Najib, since he cannot even remember if he still had the document in his possession.

Amhari disagrees, and insists that he remembers what Azlin told Najib as the matter stood in stark contrast to what was going on with 1MDB at the time.

Shafee then claims that the witness made the story up to “play ball” with the MACC and not be charged in court.

The witness again disagrees.

Shafee: You remember Jho Low was going around claiming that he was the adviser of the YDP Agong who was the Sultan of Terengganu at that time. Did you know that this claim was not true at that time?

Amhari: No I didn’t know.

12.15pm: The court hears that in 2009, the palace was upset with Jho Low portraying himself a representative of the then-Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Sultan Mahmud.

Shafee reveals this by referring to the minutes of a TIA meeting on May 29, 2009.

According to the minutes, palace representatives from Terengganu Menteri Besar Inc (MBI) were upset that Low claimed to be representing the Terengganu ruler.

Shafee refers to the minutes in his cross-examination of Amhari, who attended a later TIA meeting in June that year.

Shafee: The palace representative questioned the role of Low, as the palace was worried there were certain quarters misusing the name of the Agong. You agree that at this second meeting (June 30), representatives of the Agong and MBI Inc disputed Low as representative of the Agong. This document (May 29 minutes) speaks for itself.

Amhari: Yes.

Shafee: Did you update Najib that Low has been going around misrepresenting his position?

Amhari: No.

12.22pm: Amhari says in a meeting with Terengganu state about TIA, he got the feeling that they were not happy.

Shafee: In this case, have you ever found Najib’s direction inappropriate or against the law?

Amhari takes a long pause but judge Sequerah says the question is subjective.

Amhari: If I may, I don’t want to comment on my former boss.

Shafee: I’m putting to you that he never gave you an inappropriate direction.

Amhari: I will answer it my way in this manner. Overwhelmingly, he did not give me wrong instructions. When I went to China and Abu Dhabi, I was more loyal than to worry about the cause of it.

12.30pm: Court breaks for lunch.

2.30pm: Proceedings resume with Shafee continuing with his cross-examination.

2.37pm: Shafee suggests that Low in April 2009, was appointed adviser to TIA but never an adviser to the then Terengganu sultan who also was the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Amhari says he knew of this.

2.53pm: Sri Ram objects to Shafee’s line of questioning because Amhari was never involved in TIA meetings where Low’s name was brought up.

Sri Ram says that the prosecution will be calling witnesses involved in the meetings and Shafee can ask them these questions.

Sequerah agrees.

2.55pm: Amhari says he is not aware of Low prior to his official role in TIA.

He says Low claimed to be an adviser to the TIA board chairman, which was the Terengganu sultan.

2.58pm: Shafee moves on to another facet of Amhari’s witness statement where Amhari said Low was an informal adviser to Najib on 1MDB matters.

Shafee: Is there any document that states Low was a special adviser to Najib?

Amhari: No, there was no document.

Shafee: You said he could be unofficial adviser. Was there a letter of honour to say this?

Amhari: No, there was not.

3.05pm: Amhari says Low was not appointed to the role officially (tanpa lantikan rasmi), but confidentially (secara sulit).

Shafee asks Amhari what he meant by “secara sulit” in his witness statement.

“Not many in PMO knew. Senior officers would know. Azlin Alias and a few others would know that Low had discussions with Najib.

“But many in PMO did not know,” he says.

3.32pm: Shafee suggests that Amhari was working hand in hand with Low.

Shafee also suggests that Amhari received US$1 million in kickbacks from Low. This is in reference to the US$800,000 in a BSI Singapore account and the US$200,000 Low had given him to purchase a house.

Amhari denies this.

3.30pm: Najib’s lawyers are grilling Amhari over alleged inconsistencies in the latter’s written testimony.

Shafee points out that Amhari had earlier stated that “most of the time,” he and the late Azlin had checked with Najib on instructions they received from Jho Low.

Shafee says that paragraph 17 of Amhari’s witness statement contradicts paragraph 25, which states that he and Azlin only checked with Najib “sometimes” and “whenever necessary.”

Amhari then asks for time to read his witness statement again.

The exchange takes more than 15 minutes, before Amhari agrees that they checked with Najib only when necessary.

The lawyer then grills the witness on why he was being inconsistent.

3.47pm: Court takes a break.

4.07pm: Court resumes. Amhari says officially and unofficially, he attended three to four meetings on the conception of TIA.

4.12pm: Shafee asks why Najib, Jho Low, Azlin and Amahari could not sit down and discuss these things. Amhari says it didn’t work that way.

4.13pm: Amhari says they need to be invited to meetings with Najib. If they’re not invited, then they cannot initiate the meetings.

4.18pm: Amhari admits Najib never ordered him to meet Jho Low at the Prince Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

Shafee: I put it to you that the fact that prime minister Najib had never directed you two (Amhari and Azlin) on any occasion to meet Low at the hotel at KL means he never sanctioned you two to meet Low?

Amhari: I disagree.

Shafee: Did Najib ever told you and Azlin to meet Low that night at Prince Hotel for example?

Amhari: Not to me.

Shafee: Are you not baffled by this strange game that Low created for you two to meet him at the hotel?

Amhari: It did not strike me as strange.

4.30pm: Shafee asks if there’s a possibility that Najib was misled by Jho Low. Sri Ram rebutted that this is a question for Najib to answer and not the witness.

4.32pm: Shafee asks if Jho Low was a suspicious person. Amhari says he never came across as suspicious.

4.30pm: Amhari tells the court that he deleted his emails several months after being released from MACC remand.

Amhari testifies that he did so earlier this year because clearing his inbox is an annual practice.

Shafee had asked him if he still keeps his emails, including those from Jho Low.

Shafee: Most of the emails would be there (in your BlackBerry)?

Amhari: No, I have deleted them. I delete my emails regularly.

Shafee: You don’t know about (Najib’s former chief private secretary) Azlin Alias of course?

Amhari: No.

Shafee: Low’s emails to you, you deleted all of them?

Amhari: I think by now, I have deleted all of them.

Shafee: What you mean ‘by now’?

Amhari: I think after the MACC remanded me, I cleared all my emails. Doesn’t matter from whom. I wanted to start fresh.

Shafee: After MACC arrested you, you went back and you cleared your emails?

Amhari: Yes.

The witness says he had given his email password to the MACC when he was remanded last July, but that he is unsure if any data was extracted from the account.

When Shafee asks him if he had obtained permission from the MACC to delete his emails, as he was under investigation at the time, Amhari says that he did not, as it did not occur to him at the time.

Amhari also disagrees with Shafee’s suggestion that the emails were deleted because they would expose the true nature of his link to Low.

Earlier, the witness said that he had received his BlackBerry from Low.

The device, however, was confiscated by the MACC during his arrest last year and is still in its keeping.

Shafee: Who told you that you may lose your job if you don’t follow Jho Low’s orders?

Amahari: Azlin explained it to me. I was just doing my job.

4.48pm: Shafee ends his cross-examination of Amhari for the day and tells judge Sequerah that he will need the whole of tomorrow to continue his cross-examination of the witness.

Sequerah adjourns the trial to 9.30am tomorrow.

5.15pm: After the adjournment of today’s hearing, Shafee was asked whether there are any plans to impeach Amhari.

This follows the defence pointing out several inconsistencies in Amhari’s testimony.

Shafee, however, only smiles and says, “Let’s see.”

The lawyer also says he expects the cross-examination of Amhari, which has stretched over two full days, to be completed by this week.

Earlier reports:

Sept 10, Rosmah Fond of Jho Low

Sept 10, Najib’s Ex-Aide: Jho Low Provided Scripted Responses to Deny His Involvement in 1MDB

Sept 10, Istana Negara Questioned Jho Low’s Role in 1MDB Predecessor TIA

Sept 5, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day Five

Sept 5, 1MDB Trial: Judge Raps Shafee over Najib’s Tardiness

Sept 5, 1MDB Trial: Najib’s Ex-Aide Took US$200K Loan from Jho Low to Buy Property

Sept 5, 1MDB Trial: Najib’s Ex-Aide Accused of Lying

Sept 4, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day Four

Sept 4, Najib’s Ex-Aide: Mudabala CEO Was Promised All Sorts of Things

Sept 4, Najib’s Ex-Aide, Jho Low on “Secret China Mission” to Bail Out 1MDB

Sept 4, Jho Low Ordered Najib’s Ex-Aides to Open Overseas Bank Accounts

Sept 3, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day Three

Sept 3, Najib’s Ex-Aide: Jho Low Drew Out Wealth Fund Concept on Kitchen Whiteboard

Sept 3, Jho Low Gave Possibly Forged Letters from Saudi Arabia to Stop 1MDB Probe

Sept 3, Only Najib and Jho Low Knew “Full Picture” of 1MDB Plan

Sept 3, Jho Low in Najib’s Inner Circle

Aug 29, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day Two

Aug 28, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day One

Aug 28, Shafee: Prove Najib Knew Arab Donation Letter Faked, Jho Low Is Najib’s Alter Ego

Aug 28, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Shafee Again Questions Sri Ram’s Appointment

Aug 28, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Gopal Sri Ram’s Full Opening Statement

Aug 28, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Prosecution to Show Saudi Donations a Sham

Aug 28, Najib’s 1 MDB Trial: Prosecution to Prove Jho Low Was Najib’s Alter Ego

Aug 28, Najib’s 1MDB Trial Begins