Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 11

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The staff at Najib’s residence demonstrated their familiarity with Jho Low who would ask for iced Milo.

9.33am: Accused Najib Abdul Razak enters the courtroom and takes a seat at the front row of the public gallery to await the beginning of the proceedings.

11am: Lead DPP Gopal Sri Ram and other members of the prosecution team enters the court.

It is understood that the separate criminal cases they had attended earlier are complete.

11.15am: Najib’s lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah enters the court and confers with other members of the defence team while awaiting proceedings to begin.

11.22am: Najib’s former special officer and the 8th witness, Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin takes a seat in the witness stand to await the resumption of re-examination by the prosecution.

11.25am: Najib enters the dock as proceedings resume.

Ahmad Zamzahuri

11.37am: Sri Ram asks Amhari about his ex-boss’s exclamation of “Duit 1MDB-lah, bro” described in the witness’ statement.

Sri Ram: What did you mean by “Duit 1MDB-lah, bro” in relation to the accused and 1MDB?

Amhari: I said this because 2015 and late 2014 were difficult years for the PMO and Najib; because many reports and proof of fraud in 1MDB had surfaced at the time. It can be said that the PMO was besieged over 1MDB in 2015.

We at the office decided to take the position of defence because we believed it was a conspiracy against the PM.

Sri Ram: Who do you mean by “we”?

Amhari: Datuk Azlin and myself as well as other senior officers. The issue of fund misappropriation, the PetroSaudi deal, Jho Low’s lavish lifestyle and The Wolf of Wall Street – these all arose from 1MDB. This all happened in early 2015, I believe in January or February, because Azlin died in April. At the time the issue was hot and widely publicised.

11.45am: Sri Ram asks Amhari what he referred to when he said  “The Wolf of Wall Street”.

Amhari: The film produced by Najib’s (step)son Riza Aziz.

Sri Ram: At any one point in 2015 to 2018 were there instructions from the accused to file a police report on1MDB?

Amhari: No.

Sri Ram: MACC report?

Amhari: No.

11.47am: The Kuala Lumpur High Court orders Amhari to highlight portions of a documentary exhibit that allegedly shows China-Malaysia projects were meant to bail out 1MDB.

Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah issues the order following Sri Ram’s application for this portion of proceedings be in chambers or in-camera.

In-camera proceedings mean that members of the media and public must not be present in court during the testimony.

Shafee counters that the testimony should remain in public as the media had already previously reported on the witness’ allegation that the projects, which included the East Coast Rail Link, was purportedly a way to bail out 1MDB’s massive debts.

Sequerah allows the media and public to remain in the court and directs Amhari to use a highlight marker to highlight the portion of the documentary exhibit that touched on the witness’ bailout allegation, without reading out the said portion.

12.14pm: Amhari is released from the witness stand after Sri Ram wraps up his re-examination.

Sequerah allows proceedings to break for an early lunch to allow the prosecution time to prepare for the 9th witness to take the stand.

2.11pm: Proceedings resume with the 9th witness and former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi taking the witness stand for the prosecution’s examination-in-chief.

2.14pm: After taking the oath, Shahrol begins reading out his voluminous 270-page Witness Statement.

Azneal Ishak/Malaysiakini

2.20pm: Shahrol, 49, testifies that he had known Jho Low since 2007 when he (Shahrol) was working as the managing director for a consultant company called Andersen Consulting (later known as Accenture).

He says that he first met Low, then the managing director of UBG, when UBG became Accenture’s client. Their relationship continued even after UBG was no longer a client of Accenture as Shahrol was responsible to maintain ties with former clients to seek future business opportunities.

2.25pm: Shahrol says he was contacted by Low in 2009 when Low asked him if he was interested to join TIA, which was established to develop Terengganu’s economy.

“I told him that I had the intention to have a change of career and informed him that I had previously sent my CV to Tan Sri Azlan Zainol, who was also my client since 2006.

“This is because I have worked in Accenture for more than 13 years and wanted to have career advancement.

“Low then told me to get ready, and he would call me when the right time comes,” he says.

2.38pm: Shahrol tells the court that Low contacted him on March 21, 2009, and asked him to go to the Istana Terengganu in Kuala Lumpur on the same evening.

At the palace, he says he met with Azlan Zainol and later Jho Low.

Shahrol testifies that only then he knew that Low had proposed his name to Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, who was then the Yang DiPertuan Agong and ruler of Terengganu, to become a director of TIA and CEO.

Shahrol says he was told that Tuanku Mizan has given his blessings, and he was appointed into the positions through a TIA directors’ circular resolution on March 23, 2009.

He reported directly to TIA’s board of directors.

Shahrol: My job scope was to promote TIA and to prepare reports, or to hold presentations if requested by the board of directors.

TIA, the precursor of 1MDB, is a sovereign wealth fund registered on Feb 27, 2009.

Shahrol says the idea for the sovereign wealth fund came from Terengganu ruler Sultan Mizan and Low after a visit to Abu Dhabi.

Shahrol says the idea to form the fund was explained to him by Low himself.

2.40pm: Jho Low had direct access to Najib since 2009, the court hears from Shahrol.

Shahrol testifies that Low could directly contact Najib, who was then the deputy prime minister, on the phone to seek Najib’s advice and guidance.

This was based on Shahrol’s own observation during TIA meetings.

Shahrol says Low could call Najib in the middle of a meeting to ask for an opinion. He says Low had referred to Najib as “boss” in many instances and the businessman was an important person for Najib.

Shahrol testifies that Low also acted as a facilitator between Sultan Mizan and Najib.

Shahrol also tells the court that Low was able to meet Najib at the latter’s house in Langgak Duta or at Sri Satria Putrajaya, the official residence for Malaysia’s deputy prime minister.

2.45pm: The court hears from Shahrol that Low had represented both the Terengganu state and the federal governments in TIA meetings.

He says Low could influence executive-level decisions in TIA despite not having any formal position in the wealth fund.

“I see that Jho Low since the beginning played the role of an adviser in protecting the interests of both Terengganu state and the federal governments, especially from the perspective of investments and fundraising.

“He did not have any formal power in the management of TIA, but he could influence the decisions at the executive level because he represented both sides, namely Tuanku Mizan (ruler of Terengganu) and Najib Abdul Razak (federal government),” Shahrol testifies.

Shahrol: TIA was just a two-dollar company. There were no funds (in it). The new company was not able to get a credit line. We needed a place to work and Low offered his meeting room in Utama Banking Group (UBG) in KLCC to use. It was for fundraising and operational work of TIA and to take on staff.

Sri Ram: Were TIA’s accounts ever audited?

Shahrol: No.

3.45pm: Sri Ram asks Sharol why he thinks Low had a close relationship with Najib.

Sri Ram: Why do you have that view?

Shahrol: Right after Najib was made prime minister, there were a lot of rumours communicated to me from Low that weekend. Rosmah was worried…

Shafee objects before Shahrol can finish his words.

Shafee: This isn’t a coffee shop. This is getting ridiculous. Hearsay is a statement made by anyone who is not giving evidence. Low is not giving evidence.

Sri Ram then asks Shahrol to state from his observation how is Low close to Najib.

Shahrol: They are very close. One of my observations was when Low took me to the accused’s residence in Putrajaya. He was already prime minister at the time but was still staying at the deputy prime minister’s residence.

Low took me straight inside, waving to the guard. He was familiar with the premises’ layout and waiting area. The staff knows him. He asked for iced milo from them, and then he met Najib.

Shahrol says the meeting with Najib was on the introduction of Mubadala Oil’s CEO to Najib.

Sri Ram: When you met the accused, how did the conversation go?

Shahrol: It was an introduction to Mubadalah oil and gas CEO Maurizio la Noce. There was prior discussion between the Mubadalah CEO and Najib.

Court takes a break.

4.15pm: Shahrol testifies that a letter from TIA to the Finance Ministry dated April 26, 2009, had specified a target date for the company’s bonds issuance, which was set to be at the end of the following month (May 2009).

He says that to his knowledge, the target date requested was “very aggressive” and had caused inconvenience on the part of the ministry due to the short notice period.

According to Shahrol, Jho Low had told him then that the deadline was set in such a way to ensure that investment from Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala can happen.

“Jho Low also suggested for me to push the Finance Ministry, adding that he would push (the matter) top-down through the then-finance minister (Najib Abdul Razak).”

Shafee, however, objects to this testimony stating that it is also hearsay.

4.34pm: The court will hear Shafee’s objection of hearsay in Shahrol’s witness statement tomorrow.

Sequerah sets this when Sri Ram asks for early adjournment this afternoon to allow the prosecution to prepare submissions on the alleged hearsay.

Earlier, Shafee more than once raised objections to portions of Shahrol’s witness statement related to Jho Low.

Shafee claims the testimony by Shahrol about Low amounted to hearsay as the prosecution should call on Low to come to court to testify on the related sections of Shahrol’s witness statement.

4.40pm: Shahrol says the first TIA meeting took place on March 23, 2009, and the second meeting took place the next day. He says Low was present along with a senior Finance Ministry (MoF) officer, Wan Abdul Aziz.

Shahrol: Low wanted to push MoF to speed up the bond issuance process so that the deal with Mubadalah can take place. MoF was given a month to issue to bond and the Ministry was not comfortable with it.

Sri Ram: What was the reason for the urgency?

Shahrol: Clearly it was the investment in Pulau Bidong with Mubadalah. I was shown plans to develop the island by Nik Faisal and Low.

Proceedings adjourn for the day and will resume at 9.30am tomorrow.

Earlier reports:

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