1MDB audit trial: Jho Low attended 1MDB 2009 board meeting where minutes were altered

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The court was also told that at the time, Low did not play any role in 1MDB and was even questioned by one of the members on his attendance at the September 26, 2009 meeting.

Fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low was present during the 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s (1MDB) board meeting on September 26, 2009, the Kuala Lumpur High Court heard today.

Standing as the eighth prosecution witness, 1MDB former investments director Kelvin Tan Kay Jin had affirmed that Low was in attendance during the board meeting via minutes of the meeting where he had prepared under the instructions of then 1MDB chief executive Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi.

“I refer to the document, minutes of the special meeting of the board of directors of 1Malaysia Development Berhad, with the name Low Taek Jho dated September 26, 2009 that have been prepared by me on the instructions of Datuk Shahrol and Casey Tang (1MDB executive director of business development).

“Also present at the meeting was Tan Sri Mohd Bakke Salleh (Chairman), Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, Tan Sri Lodin Wok Kamaruddin, Tan Sri Azlan Mohd Zainol, Datuk Ismee Ismail, Casey Tang and Low Taek Jho.

“I confirmed that I was in attendance for this meeting to take minutes of the meetings and I confirmed my signature on the space of ‘Recorded By’ on the left side of page 7 of this document, is my own signature,” he said.

However, Tan said he was 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.

Tan said he does not know how the minutes had been amended but confirmed that Low had attended the meeting.

Tan was testifying during today’s trial of former prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and former 1MDB CEO K Arul Kanda’s case of alleged amendment of the final audit report on the troubled sovereign wealth fund.

Among the crux of the prosecution’s case was that several controversial issues were removed from the 1MDB final audit report, following a crucial meeting on Feb 24, 2016.

Former auditor-general Tan Sri Ambrin Buang, who attended the Feb 24 meeting, previously testified that a decision was made that day to remove the issue of Low’s attendance at the 2009 1MDB board meeting.

Besides Ambrin, among others who were present at the Feb 24 meeting were then government chief secretary Tan Sri Ali Hamsa, Dzulkifli Ahmad then from the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), Najib’s then principal private secretary Tan Sri Shukry Salleh, and Arul Kanda.

In his statement to the court, Tan also stated that at the time, Low did not play any role in 1MDB and was even questioned by one of the members on his attendance at the September 26, 2009 meeting.

“At the time, to my knowledge, Low Taek Jho did not have any role or position within 1MDB that would allow him to attend said meeting.

“During the meeting, Tan Sri Lodin had asked Low Taek Jho on his role to attend the meeting and Low Taek Jho had told all board members that he will have a role in the ‘board of advisor’.

“All of the board members took note of the matter and no one had raised further questions on the matter,” he said.

Tan, who is a consultant currently engaged by the World Bank, had worked with 1MDB from 2009 until 2013.

During cross-examination by Najib’s lead defence counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Tan testified that during the 2009 board meeting, Low handed a handphone to Mohd Bakke.

The witness claimed that the telephone call was from the then prime minister in 2009.

Shafee: Jho Low must have said something at the meeting. Otherwise, what is the point of his attending the meeting?

Tan: I remember he (Low) passed the phone to Bakke, and I recall Bakke being surprised that it was the prime minister.

However, during further prodding from Shafee, Tan said he could not recall what else was said by Low during the meeting.

Later during re-examination by deputy public prosecutor Mohammad Mustaffa P Kunyalam, the witness said the telephone call was from Najib.

Mustaffa: You said that Jho Low passed the phone to Bakke, saying it was the PM. Who was the PM at the time?

Tan: Najib Razak.

Ninth prosecution witness Mazidah Abdul Majid, meanwhile, told the court that the cabinet under Najib had at that time greenlighted for the National Audit Department (NAD) to check the audited accounts of 1MDB.

Mazidah, a former cabinet deputy secretary, said the cabinet made this decision during a meeting on March 4, 2015.

During examination-in-chief by Mohamad Mustaffa, the witness referred to the minutes on the 2015 cabinet meeting, which was attended by Najib.

“(The cabinet agreed) that after the cabinet meeting on March 4, 2015, for the prime minister (Najib) to issue a statement, among others, that the cabinet has been given a briefing by country managing partner of Deloitte Malaysia, who carried out the audit on 1MDB’s financial management and investments, whereby the cabinet is satisfied that 1MDB’s financial management has been carried out according to procedure as well as international standards.

“However, in light of the 1MDB issue becoming a major one, the cabinet has agreed for the auditor-general to peruse the audit report by Deloitte Malaysia as well as confirm the 1MDB accounts, and further to present the audit report to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

“If there is any wrongdoing, action will be taken under the law,” Mazidah read from the cabinet minutes.

Mazidah was also a prosecution witness in a separate RM2.28 billion 1MDB corruption case against Najib, where she testified that the then cabinet agreed with the then-premier to keep under wraps the alleged Arab donation to the 1MDB foundation.

The 1MDB audit report trial before Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan will resume on Sept 9.

Yusof Mat Isa

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.

The charges are framed under Section 23 (1) of the MACC Act 2009, which specifies a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of no less than five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher.


Earlier reports:

Feb 23, 1MDB audit trial: Whistleblower’s Datukship takes centre stage

Aug 25, 1MDB Audit Trial: Najib’s Lawyer Grills Former Audit Dept Director over Definition of ‘Final Report’

Aug 24, 1MDB Audit Trial: Without Najib’s Instructions Meeting Would Not Have Happened

Aug 13, 1MDB Audit Trial: Ambrin Asked by Ali Hamsa to Remove His Opinion

Aug 12, 1MDB Audit Trial: Najib Did Not Pressure Ambrin on Conflicting Financial Statements

Aug 11, 1MDB Audit Trial: Ambrin Felt Insulted After Arul Kanda Allowed to Review His Audit Report

Jul 27, 1MDB Audit Trial: Arul Kanda Had No Power to Influence Probe

Jul 27, 1MDB Audit Trial: Ali Hamsa Denies Threatening Auditor-General Ambrin to Get Report Changed

Jul 23, 1MDB Audit Trial: August 7 for Decision on Striking out Application

Jun 24, 1MDB Audit Trial: Court Allows Prosecution to Amend Charges Against Najib, Arul Kanda

Jun 17, 1MDB Audit Trial: Defence Says Charge Amendments Substantial Not Just Typos

Jun 16, 1MDB Audit Trial: Prosecution Seeks to Amend Charges

Jun 16, 1MDB Audit Trial: No One Threatened Auditor-General into Altering Reports

Jun 16, 1MDB Audit Trial: Ali Hamsa Calls Taping of Meeting Unethical as No Permission Granted

Jan 16, 1MDB Audit Trial: Day Nine

Jan 14, 1MDB Audit Trial: Day Eight

Jan 14, 1MDB Audit Trial: Day Seven

Nov 29, 1MDB Audit Trial: Day Six

Nov 28, Former A-G Ambrin Told That Tarnishing Najib’s Reputation Akin to Sullying Nation’s Image

Nov 27, Ambrin: I Ordered Auditor Salwani to Save Sole 1MDB Audit Report, Destroy the Rest

Nov 21, 1MDB Audit Trial: Day Four

Nov 21, 1MDB Audit Trial: Day Three

Nov 20, 1MDB Audit Trial: Day Two

Nov 19, 1MDB Audit Trial: Day One