Najib’s 1MDB trial: 1MDB’s senior executive meetings held in Jho Low’s apartment

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Former 1MDB CEO said meetings between 1MDB senior management officials and Jho Low were held at Low’s apartment near KLCC instead of at 1MDB’s office and he believed all instructions were directly from Najib.

Jho Low’s instructions to 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s (1MDB) senior management came from then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the government-owned company’s former CEO told the Kuala Lumpur High Court today.

1MDB ex-CEO Mohd Hazem Abd Rahman said, however, he did not directly confirm with Najib as he did not have direct access to the prime minister.

Hazem was testifying as the 10th prosecution witness in Najib’s corruption trial involving more than RM2 billion of 1MDB funds.

Under cross-examination by Najib’s lead defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Hazem said that any meetings he and other 1MDB senior management officials had with Low on 1MDB matters were carried out in Low’s apartment at 8 Kia Peng near Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) instead of at 1MDB’s office.

He said other senior 1MDB officers would also sometimes attend these meetings at Low’s apartment, including then 1MDB chief financial officer (CFO) Azmi Tahir, 1MDB’s general counsel Jasmine Loo and executive director of finance Terence Geh, who would join when requested by Low.

Shafee: Why [meet] him in his apartment and not in the 1MDB office?

Hazem: He’s not part of 1MDB.

Shafee: Why can’t he come to 1MDB?

Hazem: Because he cannot appear. He cannot be seen to be giving advice to 1MDB; he cannot appear in the 1MDB office.

Shafee: What about the fact that he was advising? Did the senior management know? Who would know?

Hazem: The names are Azmi, the [then] CFO, Vincent Koh, Robert Ho on the communications side, Terence Geh, Jerome Lee [and] Jasmine Loo, obviously. Those are the ones that I know who have spoken to Jho Low.

Furthermore, Hazem said the instructions given by Low, sometimes did not even make financial sense.

Hazem: In the traditional sense, in corporate governance sense, it doesn’t make sense. But coming from the message that Jho Low is basically all the instructions from the prime minister.

Shafee: Which you did not confirm with the prime minister?

Hazem: I think yeah, there is no confirmation as well as verifying that these instructions are cleared by the prime minister.

Hazem said that while he had not personally asked Najib to confirm instructions from Low — especially instructions that did not seem to make financial sense or common sense — on 1MDB, he pointed out however that there were occasions where Low was present in meetings with the prime minister and that he took it that “Jho Low’s plans are sanctioned by the prime minister himself.”

Shafwan Zaidon

Hazem had previously said that when he arrived at Najib’s house, Low was already there in a previous discussion with the prime minister, before the prime minister met with him and Low in a subsequent meeting.

Hazem also told the court that June 10, 2015, was the first time he had given his statement to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), with this statement recorded while he was still a 1MDB director and only regarding 1MDB’s real estate matters, particularly a purchase by Tabung Haji of one of the plots of land in the Tun Razak Exchange Development (TRX).

Hazem said the next time that MACC recorded a statement from him was in 2018 after the 14th general elections. All in, he said the MACC recorded statements from him a number of times.

Hazem joined 1MDB as chief operating officer (COO) in August 2012 and was its CEO from March 2013 until early January 2015.

The High Court had previously heard about Low’s apartment during the testimony of Najib’s former special officer Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin, the prosecution’s eighth witness.

Amhari testified that Low had briefed him about the formation of the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), the precursor to 1MDB, by scribbling on a whiteboard in the apartment’s kitchen.

Today, Hazem also agreed that he was told by Low in a July 2012 meeting that 1MDB was meant to benefit Umno. He added that he was briefed on this by Low before he took up the COO position in 1MDB.

Agreeing that it would be “wrong” and “criminal” for 1MDB as a government-owned company to benefit Umno, Hazem, however, said that he did not dare to turn down the appointment as 1MDB COO.

Shafee: Before you took the contract, you knew this is wrong. So, you went into 1MDB, took up the contract, with your eyes wide open?

Hazem: Yes.

Shafee: You are going to be a participant in a criminal act.

Hazem: Yeah.

Shafee: You were OK with that?

Hazem: You know, at that time, I was fearful of basically snubbing the prime minister, because I heard my CV has been minuted.

On June 28, 2018, it was reported that the MACC had raided the Kia Peng apartment, which was believed to have also acted as a “safe house” for Low, who is currently on the run, after retrieving information about the residence from its interrogation on Amhari.

It was reported that MACC officers had to break into the apartment as no one was at home, and the place looked more like an office, complete with computers, a photocopying machine, and a paper shredder.

In the raid, MACC found cash and several documents in the apartment.

In the 1MDB trial, Najib, who is also former finance minister, is facing four counts of power abuse to enrich himself with RM2.3 billion from 1MDB and 21 counts of laundering the same amount.

He faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment if convicted.

Earlier reports:

Feb 10, Najib’s 1MDB trial: Najib claimed Saudi prince “donated” to 1MDB’s charity arm

Feb 9, Najib’s 1MDB trial: Najib received RM2.973b from 1MDB

Feb 9, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Jho Low known as “PMO” in 1MDB board meetings was “the man”

Feb 8, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Ex-CEO says in 1MDB, you either follow instructions or quit

Jan 6, Najib’s 1MDB trial: Day 52

Jan 5, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 51

Sept 17, 2020, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 50

Sept 15, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 49

Sept 14, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 48

Sept 3, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 47

Sept 2, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 46

Sept 1, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 45

Aug 17, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 44

Aug 5, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 43

Aug 4, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 42

Aug 3, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 41

Jul 17, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Set to Last Until at Least June 2021

Jul 16, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 39

Jul 15, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 38

Jul 1, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 37

Jun 30, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 36

May 21, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 35

May 21, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 34

May 19, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 33

Nov 11, 2019, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 32

Nov 7, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 31

Nov 6, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 30

Nov 5, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 30

Nov 4, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 28

Nov 4, 1MDB Trial: Judge Reprimands Najib After Tg Piai Trip

Oct 31, Najib Calls in Sick with Swollen Eyes, 1MDB Trial Postponed Yet Again

Oct 30, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 27

Oct 29, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 26

Oct 24, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 25

Oct 24, Najib Asks Prosecution to Hand Over Justo’s Information Given to MACC

Oct 21, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 24

Oct 17, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 23

Oct 17, Jho Low Changed 1MDB Constitution to Give Najib Absolute Power

Oct 16, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 22

Oct 14, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 21

Oct 10, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 20

Oct 9, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 19

Oct 8, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 18

Oct 7, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 17

Oct 7, Some Umno People Envious of Jho Low-Najib Ties, Court Told

Oct 1, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 16

Oct 1, Arul Kanda Told Ex-1MDB CEO to Leave Country to Avoid PAC Meeting

Oct 1, Ex-1MDB CEO Paid RM99K Monthly, RM1.5M Bonus

Oct 1, Jho Low Helped Plan Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Trip to Sway Voters for GE13

Sept 30, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 15

Sept 30, Witness: Najib Used 1MDB to Raise Funds for GE13

Sept 26, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 14

Sept 26, Jho Low, Tim Leissner Played “Matchmaker” for Najib to Meet Goldman Sachs

Sept 26, US$9M Transferred from Jho Low’s Good Star to Riza Aziz’s Red Granite Pictures

Sept 26, Jho Low, Najib Faked Meeting Minutes to Move US$750M from 1MDB to PSI

Sept 26, Najib Agreed to 1MDB Borrowing RM3B from SOCSO to Lend to PetroSaudi

Sept 25, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 13

Sept 24, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 12

Sept 23, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 11

Sept 19, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 10

Sept 18, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day Nine

Sept 18, Najib’s Ex-Aide Led MACC to Raid on Jho Low’s Apartment

Sept 18, Najib’s 1MDB Trial Halted Briefly for Najib to See Eye Specialist

Sept 17, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day Eight

Sept 17, Witness Identifies Riza Aziz, Arul Kanda and Five Others as Key Players in 1MDB Saga

Sept 17, Bono, Queen of Jordan, Rosmah Floated as Trustees for TIA

Sept 17, Witness Says 1MDB Najib’s Baby, Defence Claims It Was Terengganu Sultan’s Idea

Sept 11, Najib’s Eye Infection Halts 1MDB Trial

Sept 10, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day Six

Sept 10, Rosmah Fond of Jho Low

Sept 10, Najib’s Ex-Aide: Jho Low Provided Scripted Responses to Deny His Involvement in 1MDB

Sept 10, Istana Negara Questioned Jho Low’s Role in 1MDB Predecessor TIA

Sept 5, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day Five

Sept 5, 1MDB Trial: Judge Raps Shafee over Najib’s Tardiness

Sept 5, 1MDB Trial: Najib’s Ex-Aide Took US$200K Loan from Jho Low to Buy Property

Sept 5, 1MDB Trial: Najib’s Ex-Aide Accused of Lying

Sept 4, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day Four

Sept 4, Najib’s Ex-Aide: Mudabala CEO Was Promised All Sorts of Things

Sept 4, Najib’s Ex-Aide, Jho Low on “Secret China Mission” to Bail Out 1MDB

Sept 4, Jho Low Ordered Najib’s Ex-Aides to Open Overseas Bank Accounts

Sept 3, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day Three

Sept 3, Najib’s Ex-Aide: Jho Low Drew Out Wealth Fund Concept on Kitchen Whiteboard

Sept 3, Jho Low Gave Possibly Forged Letters from Saudi Arabia to Stop 1MDB Probe

Sept 3, Only Najib and Jho Low Knew “Full Picture” of 1MDB Plan

Sept 3, Jho Low in Najib’s Inner Circle

Aug 29, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day Two

Aug 28, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day One

Aug 28, Shafee: Prove Najib Knew Arab Donation Letter Faked, Jho Low Is Najib’s Alter Ego

Aug 28, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Shafee Again Questions Sri Ram’s Appointment

Aug 28, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Gopal Sri Ram’s Full Opening Statement

Aug 28, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Prosecution to Show Saudi Donations a Sham

Aug 28, Najib’s 1 MDB Trial: Prosecution to Prove Jho Low Was Najib’s Alter Ego

Aug 28, Najib’s 1MDB Trial Begins