Jho Low used Agong’s name and govt guarantee letter as his selling points

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Low told AmBank that 1MDB’s predecessor was inspired by the then Agong

Bloomberg

Fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low had used the then Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s name and government guarantee letter to secure billions of loans from the bank for Terengganu Investment Authorities (TIA), the High Court heard today.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said Low had used this as his selling points to convince AmBank’s officials to participate in the bond raising.

“Low told the bank that the TIA – the predecessor of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) – was an important sovereign fund which was ‘inspired’ by then (the Yang di-Pertuan Agong) Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin who is also the Terengganu ruler.

“Low also told the bank that then prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi also agreed to raise the fund for TIA,” he said when cross-examining Najib’s relationship manager at Ambank, Joanna Yu Gin Ping.

However, the 51-year-old banker said she could not remember whether Low had mentioned Abdullah’s name as she did not attend all meetings relating to the TIA.

“I only remember he mentioned the name of Tengku Datuk Rahimah Sultan Mahmud who is the sister of Sultan Mizan… I do not remember he mentioned (the) PM,” she said.

Yu said this when she testified as the 41st prosecution witness in Najib’s corruption trial for misappropriating RM2.3 billion of 1MDB’s funds.

It was reported that the TIA concept was formulated based on discussions between Low, Sultan Mizan and the Terengganu government, and it had a capital of RM11 billion.

The capital was supposed to be derived from RM6 billion in oil royalty owed to the Terengganu state government, and the issuance of RM5 billion in Islamic Medium Term Notes (IMTN).

Yu said she also recalled that Low and his associate Casey Tang said they would secure federal government guarantee for RM5 billion.

“The bank informed Low and his team that their initial proposal for a RM10 billion bond issuance with a 30-year tenure was too high.

“They countered that they could get a government guarantee for RM5 billion,” she said, adding that Low had portrayed himself as an adviser to the Board of Advisers to the TIA.

Shafee: What were you initially told about TIA?

Yu: It was a sovereign wealth fund created to develop Terengganu. TIA aimed to raise RM10 billion or thereabout.

Shafee: What did Low tell you about his connection with TIA?

Yu: He said he was the adviser to the board of advisers.

Shafee: Are you sure? Did he not say he is the adviser to the Board of Directors?

Yu: I believe he said adviser to the board of advisers.

Earlier Yu said she had a close working relationship with Low where the latter would often invite her for meetings at his apartment together with several of his close associates.

Yu said she was introduced to Low by her superior known as Mr Chan at the entrepreneur’s office at the Petronas Twin Towers.

She said her first dealing with Low was in 2007 involving a Majestic Masterpiece project – an investment holding company.

“The meetings were mainly about the Majestic loan,” she added.

Najib, 69, is facing four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.

The trial before judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues on Dec 12. – NST