Fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, or better known as Jho Low, swindled billions of ringgit from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) even before former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak opened the bank accounts related to the charges against him, the High Court heard.
This was suggested by Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah during the cross-examination of former 1MDB non-executive director Tan Sri Ismee Ismail on Monday (March 21).
Muhammad Shafee referred to several posts from the Malaysia Today blog that suggested Low had been swindling money from 1MDB without Najib’s knowledge as far back as the days when 1MDB was still known as the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA).
He also suggested that his client did not receive money originating from the Islamic Medium Term Notes (IMTN) bond issued in 2009 by TIA because Najib’s bank account in AmBank was only opened on Jan 13, 2011.
Ismee agreed that no proceeds from the IMTN bond, flipped by Low for millions in profit, went into Najib’s personal account.
Referring to a post on the blog, Muhammad Shafee said Low received money that was misappropriated from the issuance of the IMTN and that the money totalling RM74 million was transferred to two companies, Country Group Securities PCL and Aktis Capital Singapore Pte Ltd, in 2009.
The two companies were linked to Low.
“The companies made an easy profit when they subscribed to 1MDB bonds at a discount before reselling them at face value (or value on paper) in 2009 to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and an insurance company, Prudential.
“We wish to establish that none of the IMTN profit went into Najib’s account. The monies in Najib’s account were only because of the arrangement of the Arab donation. My client was under the impression it was a donation from the Saudi Ministry of Finance.
“Najib’s Ambank account (which allegedly received billions of ringgit in 1MDB funds) was opened in 2011, so it had nothing to do with IMTN,” said Muhammad Shafee.
Najib, 69, faces 25 charges in total – four for abuse of power that allegedly brought him financial benefit to the tune of RM2.28 billion; and 21 for money laundering involving the same amount of money.
He faces imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine of up to five times the sum or value of the gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, if found guilty.
The hearing continues before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah on Tuesday (March 22). – The Star