Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 34

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No due diligence done on Ong Gim Huat, who had a business relationship with Jho Low’s father, before he was appointed an independent director of 1MDB because he was appointed by Najib.

9.30am: Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak enters the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

Wearing a face mask, he takes a seat at the front row of the public gallery while awaiting proceedings to begin.

Bernama

9.44am: Najib enters the dock as the trial begins.

9.50am: Lead DPP Gopal Sri Ram requests the court to allow his fellow DPP Ahmad Akram Gharib to sit beside him in court.

Sri Ram tells Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah that he needs Akram to assist him with exhibits during examinations on witnesses.

However, the request is turned down by the judge, saying that the court has to abide by the standard operating procedure for Covid-19 prevention.

Sequerah refuses to budge from his decision, even after Sri Ram informs him of a message from the chief registrar that the judge can use his discretion in such matters.

“In that case, I’m refusing to exercise my discretion. I will stick with the direction now.

“Please write to the chief judge of Malaya,” says Sequerah.

Sri Ram then proceeds to extend another request to the judge, which came from prosecution witness Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi.

He says that the former 1MDB CEO is not able to be present for the whole day of the trial today and has requested for proceedings to go on until 2pm and then adjourned for the day.

Sequerah allows the application.

9.52am: Najib’s lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah informs the court that the defence was told earlier a few more defence lawyers could be allowed in this morning via five reserved public passes.

Shafee says that, however, when they came to the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex at around 7.45am, all public passes had been taken up.

“Then it is better to go to Pasar Borong Selayang and conduct the hearing there without restrictions.

“How many people do you want in court?” Sequerah asks Shafee.

“My concern is if we do not abide by the standard operating procedure (SOP), then there is no point, might as well allow anyone to come in,” Sequerah says, adding that the health and safety of the people are paramount.

9.57am: Shafee informs the High Court he may need to discharge himself from acting for Najib if he is unable to function with the Covid-19-linked restrictions.

Shafee tells Judge Sequerah this during his application to be allowed some leeway in the restrictions so that more defence lawyers are allowed in court.

At the moment, only a single lawyer and DPP are allowed to sit at the tables in court reserved for the defence and prosecution.

Shafee informs the court that it needs to allow some exception because he finds it difficult to carry out his duty as a lawyer, and claims he even finds it hard to speak to Najib.

“I cannot function. I have not spoken to my client. I may need to discharge myself.

“I cannot function like this. I look like a fool when trying to check documents,” Shafee says of being unable to refer to court papers with nearby defence counsel during proceedings.

Shafee then applies for a short break to speak to Najib about the matter, alluding to “decision I may need to make”.

Sequerah then allows a short break.

10.35am: DPP Akram is seen moving his seat to sit beside Sri Ram in court, while the defence team is also doing the same with seatings of Shafee and his co-counsel Tania Scivetti.

The court is still on a short break, and it is learned that counsels from both parties had gone to discuss further on seating arrangements in the courtroom with Judge Sequerah.

It was learnt that they have obtained permission to change the seating arrangements to allow for a smooth operation of the trial.

10.45am: Proceedings resume after break, with ninth prosecution witness.

Sitting in the witness box and wearing a black face mask, former 1MDB CEO Shahrol resumes being cross-examined by Shafee.

10.48am: Shafee tells the court that both parties, the defence and prosecution, are writing a letter to Chief Judge of Malaya Azahar Mohamed to seek a meeting to discuss easing the situation for the 1MDB trial during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is understood that this concerns the number of counsels that are allowed to be present in the courtroom at one time, which had been limited to three due to new standard operating procedures (SOP) that are in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

Shafee then requests for the trial today to stand down at 12.30pm so that he and Akram can address the matter.

Judge Sequerah allows the application.

Shafee then expresses their appreciation to the judge for allowing one assisting lawyer to sit beside the lead counsel for each team.

10.52am: Shahrol is going through how the Murabaha notes were converted into equity.

Shafee asks him about 1MDB director Tan Sri Ong Gim Huat’s involvement in this conversion. Shahrol says that the 1MDB risk management team had prepared a report about it, and Ong had brought it to the board.

Shahrol also replies to Shafee that the report does exist.

11am: Shahrol says that he was concerned that the request by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to investigate 1MDB would become a matter of public record once the opposition got a hold of certain documents.

“They would have picked and chosen what to give the media,” he says.

“We were cognisant of the fact that we have to comply, but we had to be careful.”

11.05am: Shahrol says that they had given everything to the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) and they had then given it to the PAC.

Shafee asks Shahrol if PAC is entitled to all documents, to which the witness affirmed that it was.

Shafee then asks him if any obstruction would taint PAC’s investigation, to which Shahrol also agreed.

11.10am: Shahrol disagrees that he was reluctant to provide the PAC with documents relating to the company’s joint-venture with Petrosaudi as he was worried that they would uncover shams in the deal.

He also disagrees with Shafee that if the documents were to be made available to PAC quickly when it heard the 1MDB case in 2015, the committee would have exposed him as a co-conspirator in the scandal together with fugitive businessperson Jho Low.

Shafee: I’m putting it to you, if these documents were made available at the quickest time, it may expose you together with Jho Low, Jasmine Loo, Casey Tang, Patrick Mahoney and Tarek Obaid as conspirators in a scheme of billions of dollars from 1MDB?

Shahrol: Disagree.

Shafee: And lastly, I put to you, that is the sole reason why you were motivated in being worried because you realised this composition of PAC members are no fools and they will uncover this sham?

Shahrol: Disagree.

11.15am: Shafee then goes on to PAC’s report on 1MDB. The report had stated that Shahrol needed to take responsibility as the CEO for weaknesses and blunders in the company.

Shahrol: They are painting me to be a scapegoat.

Shafee: They say you are responsible for this blunder. Your interpretation is that you are made the scapegoat?

Shahrol: Yes.

Shafee asks Shahrol about Tan Sri Ong Gim Huat, who was an independent director in 1MDB.

Shafee asks him if he believes that Ong was truly independent, to which Shahrol replies yes.

Shahrol says that it was Jho Low who had first brought up Ong’s name, but Ong was Najib’s appointment to the board.

Shahrol adds that during his tenure there Ong never showed him any cause to believe that he did not work for the best interest of the company.

11.20am: Shahrol said that they never checked Ong’s background or did any due diligence as he was appointed by Najib.

Shahrol says that the board is paid an allowance and not a salary. When asked how much the chairman gets, Shahrol replies that he does not remember.

Shafee then refers Shahrol to an article by The Edge on 17 February 2015 which states that Ong is a business associate of Jho Low’s father Tan Sri Larry Low.

Shahrol says this came out way after the appointment of Ong to the board.

Shafee proceeds to read out the article.

11.30am: The article states that both men had received their ‘Tan Sri’ titles together in 2013.

Shahrol says that he was not aware of the relationship of the two men.

Shafee then goes into Low’s particulars.

11.45am: Shahrol says that Jho Low has not told him that Larry was his father.

Shafee asks if Ong would have met requirements to be in the board. In response, Shahrol says he has no comment.

However, the defence counsel pushes him on the matter.

Shafee: You now know that Ong has a connection with Larry Low. They go back a long way and conducted business together. Now as a matter of fact I’m putting to you that Ong was not an independent guy.

Shahrol: I have no comment. I can’t judge if he was independent or not.

12pm: Shafee is highlighting a series of business documents to Shahrol, in an attempt to show that Ong had a relationship with Larry Low.

These include their business relationship through a company, Kim Mansions Sdn Bhd, where both Ong and Larry were its shareholders.

Shahrol tells the court that with all the facts laid before him in court, it has indeed been proven that there was a business relationship between the two.

“Now, with all these facts, yes, it is indeed proven there was a business relationship between Jho Low’s father and Ong. So, it was worth highlighting to the shareholder, and it is Najib’s prerogative whether to go with the appointment or not,” he says.

However, Shahrol claims he has no knowledge if Najib had been told about the relationship.

Shafee moves on to another line of questioning. He directs Shahrol to minutes of a 1MDB board meeting in 2012.

Former 1MDB chief investment officer Vincent Koh, 1MDB’s former general counsel Jasmine Loo, former 1MDB unit SRC International chairman Tan Sri Ismee Ismail and others were at the meeting.

This was the meeting where they discussed the acquisition of the Murabaha notes from PetroSaudi International Ltd.

12.20pm: Shahrol says that they wanted to repatriate RM1.83 billion from PetroSaudi to fund local investments such as TRX and Bandar Malaysia.

But this was never raised in the board meetings.

Shafee asks if they had lost confidence in the PetroSaudi deal, to which Shahrol said no.

Shafee then tells Justice Sequerah he is moving on to another area of questioning and asks if the case can be adjourned to tomorrow morning.

The judge allows Shafee’s request and the case is adjourned to tomorrow morning at 9.30am.


Earlier reports:

May 19, Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 33

Nov 11, 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