Former 1MDB CEO denies making deal to have suit against him dropped

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Former 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) chief executive officer (CEO) Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman has denied making any deal with the prosecution in the 1MDB-Tanore criminal trial in exchange for the dropping of the government’s civil suit against him.

The Edge reported yesterday that 1MDB and its four subsidiaries had dropped Hazem and six others from the original list of 15 defendants in a US$8 billion lawsuit against the former office bearers of the companies.

In the 1MDB-Tanore trial in the High Court today, Hazem was asked by defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah whether his name was removed from the civil suit because he had made a deal to testify in the criminal trial against former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“You were given the assurance that your name would be removed [from the suit],” said Shafee.

“I disagree,” replied Hazem.

Izzani Mohd Said/The Edge

Others dropped as defendants in the civil suit are 1MDB’s former directors Tan Sri Che Lodin Wok Kamaruddin, Tan Sri Ismee Ismail, Tan Sri Ong Gim Huat and Ashvin Jethanand Valiram, along with former CEO Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi and former chief financial officer (CFO) Azmi Tahir.

Shafee noted that the defendants still named in the civil suit are Najib, Terence Geh Choh Heng, Jasmine Loo Ai Swan, Casey Tang Keng Chee, Vincent Beng Huat Koh, Radhi Mohamad, Kelvin Tan Kay Jin and Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil.

The lawyer remarked that apart from Najib, the remaining names are all “ikan bilis” (minions) who mostly have absconded and will not come forward to defend themselves.

Stressing that he never made any deal with the prosecution, Hazem said he was never served with the writ of summons and only found out that he was being sued by 1MDB and its subsidiaries through news reports.

He said he was waiting for the writ to be served but it was never served on him, and he only knew that it was withdrawn through news reports as well.

Replying to another question, Hazem said he did not seek legal counsel or take any action when he found out about the civil suit.

He also said that he did not do anything to get his name removed from the suit.

Those named in the suit are accused of committing fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent breach of duties, fraudulent breach of trust, breach of statutory and contractual duties, conspiracy, negligence, knowing receipt, dishonest assistance, fraudulent misappropriation and unjust enrichment.

Besides Hazem, Shahrol is also a prosecution witness in the 1MDB-Tanore trial, while Ismee testified against Najib in the SRC International Sdn Bhd criminal case.

The removal of seven of the original 15 defendants was contained in an amended writ filed on July 12. A file search by The Edge confirmed this.

Case management of the suit took place in the High Court (commercial division) before Judicial Commissioner Atan Mustaffa Yussof Ahmad yesterday. The next case management has been fixed for Sept 20.

The 1MDB suit is part of the 22 suits filed by the Ministry of Finance Inc-owned company in May. – The Edge Markets