Najib’s 1MDB Trial: Day 38

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Jho Low’s name kept under wraps to protect Najib.

Ahmad Zamzahuri

The involvement of businessman Low Taek Jho — who was said to be an adviser to former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak — in 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) affairs was kept off the radar in order to protect the then prime minister, the court heard today.

1MDB former CEO Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, who was testifying as the ninth prosecution witness in Najib’s power abuse and money-laundering trial, confirmed that Low was actually involved in 1MDB’s 2012 plans to acquire power plant operator Tanjong Energy Holdings Sdn Bhd for RM10.6 billion.

While confirming that Low was the one who had proposed investment bank Goldman Sachs to act as the financial adviser for 1MDB’s RM10.6 billion bid, Shahrol denied omitting Low’s name in 1MDB board minutes as a means to receive kickbacks from Goldman Sachs if the deal went through.

In February 2012, Goldman Sachs was appointed to be financial adviser to 1MDB for the deal, with lucrative fees to be paid to Goldman Sachs in the form of 0.5 percent of the bid price if the acquisition succeeds.

Documents shown in court today showed that Shahrol had on February 7, 2012 indicated his acknowledgment on an appointment letter for Goldman Sachs to act as 1MDB’s financial adviser for the Tanjong Energy acquisition bid, a day before the 1MDB board meeting where they were informed of this and subsequently gave their approval.

Today, Najib’s defence lawyer Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed quizzed Shahrol regarding Low’s role in having Goldman Sachs appointed in February 2012 as the financial adviser for the acquisition bid.

Asked if Low had proposed for Goldman Sachs to be bookrunner, underwriter and arranger for 1MDB’s funding process for the acquisition on top of being its financial adviser, Shahrol indicated this to be the case.

“If I recall, Jho Low basically told me why don’t we get Goldman to do everything relating to the funding,” Shahrol replied.

Asked if Low had behaved like a broker for Goldman Sachs by proposing it to be 1MDB’s financial adviser, Shahrol said he did not hold this view then.

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“No, I didn’t see it at that time, I see it more that he was in touch with all key stakeholders including Datuk Seri Najib, and Goldman has always been in the picture as far as TIA (Terengganu Investment Authority) and 1MDB was concerned, so I didn’t see Jho Low as a broker but more of a facilitator between all stakeholders,” Shahrol replied, alluding to Najib’s role as 1MDB shareholder on behalf of the Finance Ministry’s MOF Inc via his position as finance minister.

Agreeing that he had not informed the 1MDB board of directors during the February 8, 2012 meeting that Goldman Sachs’ appointment was at Low’s suggestion, Shahrol explained: “Because the convention at that time was to keep Jho Low’s name out of the board meeting.”

When asked why there was such a convention and why he had followed it, Shahrol said: “Because since the very beginning, Jho has informed me his involvement must be kept off the radar in order to protect Datuk Seri Najib.”

Wan Aizuddin, however, suggested “I put it to you that the reason why you have kept Jho Low’s name out from the knowledge of the board of directors was because you were colluding with him in order to secure this remuneration, in the event this acquisition is successfully undertaken by Goldman Sachs.”

Shahrol then disagreed to the suggestion.

Earlier, Wan Aizuddin had asked Shahrol about the February 7, 2012 appointment letter, where 1MDB agreed to pay Goldman Sachs a fee of 0.5 percent of the Tanjong Energy acquisition price if the deal succeeds.

Asked who had suggested the 0.5 percent for Goldman Sachs’ fees, Shahrol said this arose from negotiations involving Goldman Sachs’ official Tim Leissner and 1MDB officials Vincent Koh, Jasmine Loo, as well as with Low’s involvement in such talks.

Shahrol explained that he had told the 1MDB board that he had signed on 1MDB’s appointment letter of Goldman Sachs before the February 8, 2012, 1MDB board meeting, in order for Goldman Sachs to attend the meeting and make presentations in the capacity as financial adviser.

Shahrol disagreed that Goldman Sachs representatives had in the meeting proposed the RM10.6 billion price for 1MDB’s proposed Tanjong Energy acquisition as he said the figure was based on presentations by other technical and tax advisers during the February 8, 2012 board meeting.

Wan Aizuddin suggested that the reason why Goldman Sachs had valued Tanjong Energy’s assets at RM10.6 billion was because Goldman Sachs’ fee would be higher if it overvalued the asset, but Shahrol said: “I have no comment on that, I don’t know why Goldman Sachs valued at RM10.6 billion other than the fact it was based on valuation of other technical and tax advisers.”

Shahrol agreed that the fees that Goldman Sachs would receive from 1MDB would hinge on how much 1MDB offered to buy Tanjong Energy, saying: “I agree the higher the purchase price, the higher their fees would be.”

Wan Aizuddin: This might be a bit controversial, I put it to you that you had colluded with Goldman Sachs in regards to pricing of the bid price, so Goldman Sachs would receive high fees and you would receive kickbacks in return from Goldman Sachs.

Shahrol: Absolutely disagree.

Shahrol further disagreed that the purported kickback scheme was why he had approved 1MDB’s engagement of Goldman Sachs before receiving the 1MDB board’s approval for the appointment. – MMO

Earlier reports:

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, 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