Najib’s secretaries involved in third 1MDB bond issuance.
Former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner has revealed that two private secretaries of then-prime minister Najib Abdul Razak were involved in facilitating the third bond issuance worth US$3 billion for 1MDB.
Leissner explained the third bond relied on support – specifically in the form of a letter of support – from the Malaysian government to raise US$3 billion instead of a guarantee from the International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic) which had been the case for the first two bonds.
The first bond was called Project Magnolia, the second one was referred to as Project Maximus and the last one is called Project Catalyze.
Due to the need for a letter of support, Leissner said he had several meetings with not only the Finance Ministry and the Treasury but also with Najib’s principal private secretary, the late Azlin Alias and another of his private secretaries, Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin.
Leissner said all this while testifying recently as the star witness in his former colleague Roger Ng’s corruption trial in New York. Malaysiakini has sighted the court transcript from one of the days he was testifying.
Prosecutor Drew Rolle: What was the purpose of meeting with them?
Leissner: To do all the work that was required for the Project Catalyze bonds. This time, again, because it wasn’t with Ipic, we had to do the work to get signed up on the letter of support with the Finance Ministry, the Treasury of the Finance Ministry and get them to approve the letter, to work on the letter and to approve the letter in its final version for Najib to sign. And then also they need to work on ratings calls for this issue. Azlin personally jumped on the Standard & Poors and Moody’s calls, too, on this transaction.
Leissner noted that he had actually met with Najib at his office in Putrajaya at one point in the course of Project Catalyze in order to get the letter of support signed by Najib.
In his testimony on the same day, Leissner also said Low Taek Jho had told him that he and Ng would not be receiving any kickbacks from Project Catalyze, unlike the first two projects.
Low had said this was because the funds raised by Project Catalyze would be utilised for the coming general election at the time in 2013, he added.
However, he noted that he does not know where the money ultimately ended up or whether it went to Najib personally.
Leissner also testified that Azlin was involved later on when Goldman Sachs was seeking to dispose of US$700 million in Catalyze bonds left on its balance sheet that the firm could not sell post the Project Catalyze transaction.
He said they had contacted Low to see if he could help sell some of those bonds to institutions in Malaysia, in particular government-linked institutions such as Lembaga Tabung Haji and the civil servant’s Retirement Fund (KWAP).
One of the pieces of evidence submitted in the case was an email thread Leissner had forwarded on Nov 6, 2013, to Ng, where the first email in the chain had been sent by Low to Azlin.
Leissner testified that Low had written in the email to Azlin about KWAP’s purchase of the 1MDB bond coming out of Project Catalyze as well as to note that Tabung Haji had already agreed to buy some of the bonds.
Rolle: What was your understanding at the time as to why Low would be reaching out or need to reach out to Azlin about any of the Goldman Sachs bonds you were trying to sell?
Leissner: Because we at Goldman Sachs were holding this very significant position that we wanted to get rid of and had asked him for his help to get some of the Malaysian institutions who we have not sold so far to buy these bonds.
Najib is currently facing criminal court cases over 1MDB and its subsidiary SRC International. The former prime minister’s defence team has contended that the accused had no knowledge of any wrongdoing and that any wrongdoings were masterminded by Jho Low and several other individuals. – Malaysiakini