Low knew more about family affairs than Najib’s aide.
Jho Low was considered a confidante of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s family and was especially close to Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, the High Court was told today.
An ex-aide to the former prime minister, Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin, testified as the eighth prosecution witness in Najib’s main 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption trial.
“To my knowledge, Datuk Seri Najib’s family, including Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor also shared close relations with Jho (Low) because I noticed Jho Low often received phone calls from Datin Seri Rosmah; however, I am unsure of and never found out the details of the conversations,” he said.
He also disclosed that Low was represented to him as an unofficial advisor to Najib at the time.
Amhari detailed his first meeting with Low in 2007 at a restaurant in Georgetown, Penang, where he was introduced to the latter by one Dennis See, who was then a communications officer to Datuk Seri Mohd Effendi Norwawi, the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of the Economic Planning Unit at the time.
“I was introduced to Jho by Effendi’s communications officer Dennis See. He told me that we are going to meet someone who is very close to Najib, who was the defence minister and deputy prime minister at that time.
“While we were seated at the restaurant, a man of Chinese ethnicity dressed in a batik shirt who identified himself as Jho Low was introduced to me by Dennis.
“During the meeting, I found that Jho spoke about Datuk Seri Najib’s family as though he was in the inner-circle of Datuk Seri Najib and Datin Seri Rosmah’s family,” he said while reading from his witness statement.
Amhari said Low, during several meetings they had, personally told him of his close relations to Najib’s family.
“Jho often spoke about how he would frequently meet up with Datuk Seri Najib’s family, where it seemed that sometimes he knew about detailed plans concerning Datuk Seri Najib’s family affairs, plans that were even beyond my knowledge when I was Datuk Seri Najib’s special officer,” he said.
Amhari said Low became close to Najib’s family through his stepson, Riza Aziz, who had known Low since they were teenagers.
The witness went on to testify that although Low was young, he had “charisma and extraordinary powers” when it came to the dealings with Najib.
“Jho would direct us from the prime minister’s office, especially Najib’s private secretary Azlin Alias, executing Najib’s orders.”
Low was also known as the “unofficial adviser” to Najib when executing behind-the-scene tasks involving international trips, work visits and investment opportunities, especially with 1MDB.
Not once did Amhari and Azlin question Low’s instructions, the court was told.
“There were occasions where we would double-check (on instructions given by Low) with Najib just to be sure. Most of the time, Najib would say that Jho’s instructions had been sanctioned by him (Najib).”
Amhari said Low would always meet the pair at Prince Hotel in Kuala Lumpur at night to relay instructions passed on by Najib.
“Before our meetings, Jho would go to Najib’s house in Langgak Duta to get approval of documents from Najib to discuss with us.”
Although Najib did not directly instruct them to meet Low, they knew he gave the instructions to the latter, he said.
“We had to follow those instructions because we didn’t want to disobey orders and our position at work… Azlin was a loyalist to Najib, I have never once seen him disobey Najib.”
Documents relating to the meetings were shared via emails, he said.
“After 1MDB matter blew out in the open, the emails were locked with passwords, which were shared with me and Datuk Azlin via BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) messages.”
At that time, Amhari and Azlin would be escorted by a couple of Malay bodyguards and quarantined for 30 minutes to one hour before each meeting, which was held in different rooms in Prince Hotel.
“Jho was always rushing, always late.”
During the meetings, Amhari said he mostly kept to himself, playing with his phone or just analysing what he could.
“The discussions between Jho and Azlin were always very quick. Jho is easy to approach and always smiles. He will say he has met Najib prior to the meetings.”