Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 30

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RM340 million of 1MDB money landed in Jho Low’s Good Star Ltd.

9.32am: Accused Najib Abdul Razak enters the High Court and takes a seat at the front row of the public gallery to wait for proceedings to begin.

Also in court is a former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, who is seen sitting in the witness stand, lead prosecutor DPP Gopal Sri Ram and other members of the prosecution, as well as Najib’s defence team.

9.50am: Najib enters the dock as proceedings begin.

Kamal Ariffin/TMI

The former prime minister’s lead defence counsel Muha Shafee Abdullah is set to resume cross-examination of Shahrol, who is the prosecution’s ninth witness.

9.55am: Trial begins.

Shafee tells Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah that for next Thursday, he and Sri Ram have matters at other courts. Shafee asks if they could have a later start.

The judge allows it but tells the lawyers that they may have to extend trial hours to 6pm next week.

10.40am: The court hears that barely a week after 1MDB transferred US$500 million to PSI Holdings in Sept 2012 for the latter to invest in a French energy company, a part of the amount had landed in Low’s company Good Star Ltd.

During cross-examination by the defence on Shahrol, the court hears about banking details on how Tarek Obaid, who had control over PSI Holdings, ordered for the transfer of some 82 million Swiss Franc from the company’s account into his personal bank account at JP Morgan on Sept 23, 2012.

Tarek also issued instructions to his personal banker to then transfer the amount, equivalent to about RM340 million, from his account to Good Star Ltd.

For the record, PSI Holdings is formerly a joint-venture company between 1MDB and Petrosaudi Holdings (Cayman) Ltd before 1MDB disposed of its shares worth US$1 billion.

PSI Holdings had on Sept 14, 2012 received the US$500 million from 1MDB as a loan for it to invest in GDF Suez energy company (now known as ENGIE).

10.45am: Shafee is asking the ninth prosecution witness on whether the latter had been shown the 1MDB-linked money trail involving the diversion of 82 million Swiss Franc from US$500 million.

The diversion was alleged to have been committed by Petrosaudi executive Tarek.

US$500 million was borrowed from AmBank by 1MDB back in Sept 2010 as part of a transaction involving the 1MDB-Petrosaudi joint venture.

“During investigation, I was shown high-level money trail from 1MDB to Good Star and to Aabar BVI entity, and where they (money) went through.

“Only high-level trail, not the (specific) details and mechanics,” Shahrol says.

10.49am: Shahrol says until today, he does not know how the US$300 million was used from the 1MDB-PSI joint venture.

10.53am: MIC deputy president M Saravanan is in the public gallery. Court takes a short recess. Najib and Saravanan have gone to the cafeteria.

11.43am: Court is in session.

Shafee goes through a transaction where 82 million Swiss francs were transferred from Tarak’s account to Good Star Ltd.

12.03pm: Shafee goes through the money flow into PSI by marking documents.

12.05pm: The High Court hears from Shahrol that he did not know if the US$500 million (about RM2 billion) loaned out by 1MDB to PSI Holdings in 2012 was really used to buy shares in an energy business.

Under cross-examination by Shafee, the witness says that he had never seen any documentary proof that PSI Holdings had used the remaining amount for the acquisition of GDF Suez shares.

Shafee: Have you been shown the bank statement of PSI Holdings?

Shahrol: No.

Shafee: So, you cannot confirm if the balance was used to purchase shares of GDF Suez.

Shahrol: I cannot confirm.

According to banking documents produced in court, Tarek, who had control of PSI Holdings, had ordered for 82 million Swiss francs (equivalent to US$83 million) to be transferred into his personal account at JP Morgan.

Tarek had also ordered his personal banker to then transfer the amount to a RBS Coutts bank account belonged to Good Star Ltd.

12.19pm: Shahrol agrees that there is no commonality of purpose as stated in bank documents for Tarek’s alleged transfer of 82 million Swiss francs to Jho Low-linked Good Star Ltd.

The ninth witness agrees with what Shafee is trying to convey when presenting several bank documents.

The bank document confirming the 82 million Swiss francs were sent to Good Star stated a different reason than the one contained in the bank document stating the purpose for the money going to Good Star’s account.

“No commonality,” Shahrol says when looking at the bank documents.

12.40pm: Proceedings adjourn for lunch.

2.35pm: Court proceedings resume.

2.45pm: Shafee reveals that the defence is more than halfway in its cross-examination of Shahrol.

Shafee, however, tells Sequerah that the defence may not be able to wrap up cross-examination of Shahrol by Thursday next week.

Previously, the court had only fixed Najib’d RM2.28 billion 1MDB trial until Thursday next week.

Sequerah: How long more do you need to question Shahrol?

Shafee: (We are) more than halfway.

Shafee, however, cautions that the defence has not questioned Shahrol in relation to the Tanore aspect of the case.

Shafee: Speaking for myself, we suspect we will not be able to finish by the end of next week.

Sequerah: Then that means (more time needed by the defence) until January (2020)?

Shafee: Yes.

The lawyer says that the amount of questioning is needed as every part of Shahrol’s 270-page witness statement is a “loaded sentence”.

“Each sentence has material that we need to scramble, and we have been doing just that to dispute or see if there is support for what he (Shahrol) says (in the witness statement).

Shafee assures the court though that as a result of the numerous questions levelled at Shahrol, the defence would not need to cross-examine the witnesses that would come after Shahrol as much.

2.48pm: Shafee is referring to an email between Tarek and Patrick Mahoney that was published by The Edge.

The lawyer says the email was disclosed by Xavier Andre Justo.

Mahoney sent the email on August 7, 2010, telling Tarek that the former had held a meeting with Low and they both came up with a list of things to tell Najib, the court hears.

It was decided that they would hide from him the fact that 1MDB would have to take a US$500 million loss. Instead, they would impress upon Najib how important it was for the state investor to quickly invest another US$500 million with them.

2.52pm: They tried to explain to Najib about the 1MDB-PSI joint venture, which was on shaky ground, and Low and his partners were seeking another US$500 million from 1MDB, the court is told.

In the email, Tarek was instructed to tell Najib that they had good investment prospects, and they needed the money quickly.

They also suggested that the losses not be discussed with the then prime minister, as “(he) thinks we’re making good investments”.

2.58pm: Shafee asks Shahrol about the US$500 million loss. Shahrol says he does not know about the sum being referred to.

The witness says he is not comfortable commenting on the email as he “was not there” and “had no idea” what was being talked about.

3.03pm: Shafee suggests that they had misused US$1 billion from 1MDB and kept the money they made. Shahrol says he does not know.

3.05pm: Shafee suggests that they were supposed to tell Najib that the joint venture was doing well, therefore, they could get more money.

Shahrol says he does not know.

Sequerah tells Shafee that the witness was not privy to the matter.

The lawyer continues his questioning, but Shahrol says he is not comfortable making comments as he has no personal knowledge of the matter.

3.07pm: Shafee tells the judge that he will ask one last question.

Shafee: From the email, (do you agree that) the conversation was (about) trying to cover up (the losses) and mislead the (then) prime minister?

Shahrol: From the email, it seems that they were trying to mislead the (then) prime minister.

3.10pm: The trial sees Shafee bringing up an email that was purportedly sent by Mahoney to Tarek in 2010.

The email, dated Aug 7, 2010, discussed what looked like a plan between Tarek, Mahoney and Low on a US$1 billion fund belonging to 1MDB and what they wanted to tell “the PM” to get more funding.

Reading the email’s content during his cross-examination of Shahrol, Shafee then presses the witness to answer his questions on the Aug 7, 2010 email.

However, to most of the questions, Shahrol tells the court that he was not comfortable answering without full information as he had no personal knowledge of the matters.

The witness, however, agrees that “the PM” mentioned in the email might be referring to the Malaysian prime minister Najib Abdul Razak.

After being pressed by the defence counsel, Shahrol also agrees that based on the content in paragraph four of the email alone, it looked like there was a conspiracy to mislead Najib by the three people.

Shafee: Based on this particular paragraph four, wasn’t there a conspiracy to hide certain facts from the PM of Malaysia? From the fourth paragraph in this conversation between these persons

Shahrol: Based (only) on point four, it does look there is a conspiracy to mislead the PM.

4.15pm: Court takes a short break.

4.30pm: Court is back in session.

Shahrol testifies that he only saw a purported letter from Saudi Arabia’s Prince Turki bin Abdullah to Najib when interrogated by MACC last year.

Kamal Ariffin/TMI

In Paragraph 294 of Shahrol’s 270-page witness statement, he testifies that the letter showed Prince Turki talking about ways for both Saudi Arabia and Malaysia to continue their joint cooperation via joint investments.

Shahrol said in the witness statement that the letter was a cover letter for a letter from PSI International, one of the entities involved with 1MDB in the 1MDB-PetroSaudi joint venture.

The ninth prosecution witness says that despite the Feb 18, 2011, letter being minuted to then 1MDB chairperson Lodin Wok Kamaruddin on March 11 the same year, he never saw it in the entirety of 2011.

Shafee: When did you see this (letter from Prince Turki to Najib)?

Shahrol: (I did) not even (see it) in 2011. Only during the investigation in 2018. I believe it was MACC (who showed the letter to me).

Court takes a short break.

5.31pm: Proceedings resume.

5.50pm: The court hears that in a meeting in April 2011, 1MDB’s board of directors decided that Shahrol’s performance had exceeded expectations and gave him a raise.

According to the minutes of meeting referred to by Shafee, the board had agreed for Shahrol’s salary to be given a 12.5 per cent increment from RM80,000 to RM90,000 a month.

The increment was to take effect on the same month (April 2011).

Shahrol joined 1MDB as its CEO in 2009 with a monthly salary of RM80,000.

The witness, however, testifies that he did not know what were the performance indicators that the board had based their decision on.

Shahrol says he had stayed out from the meeting when the board discussed his salary.

6.04pm: Proceedings adjourn for the day and will resume tomorrow sometime after 9.30am.


Earlier reports:

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