Low tried to get government officials, including the former prime minister Najib Razak, to say he was not involved in the 1MDB scandal after news of it broke in 2015, the court heard today.
Low allegedly told Najib’s then principal private secretary Azlin Alias and his then special officer Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin to issue a statement with the frequently asked questions (FAQ) on 1MDB.
The FAQ was provided by Low.
Amhari said apart from denying Low’s role in 1MDB, the FAQ refuted the claim that he was one of the many advisers appointed by the then Agong, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, to Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), the precursor to 1MDB, from January to May 2009.
“Jho Low told us to say he had no involvement in 1MDB, in the FAQ,” Amhari, the eighth witness in the 1MDB trial said today.
“It was to be an underlying statement for relevant key individuals to say. It was also suggested that Datuk Seri Najib also say it this way,” he told the court when cross-examined by lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
When questioned by Shafee, Amhari said the comment from Low was particularly memorable during a private meeting.
“This was an outlier (that which stands apart). I was nervous to see how Datuk Seri Najib would respond to this.
“I recall (telling Najib) it was advisable that it be stated by anyone else that was key in 1MDB, influential personnel, and that the prime minister himself should mention that Jho Low does not have any role in 1MDB.”
Shafee accused Amhari of lying in his testimony. The lawyer had earlier told the court Ambari was under investigation for offences under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act, pointing out he was technically on bail.
“I am putting it to you that you could not have possibly remembered that and today you are making this claim because you have been put up to it because of your own precarious position with the MACC. That if you don’t play ball, you may be charged.”
Amhari denied the allegation.
Last week, Amhari told the court that the FAQ, which was created to head off potential inquiry by a special investigative task force, included statements about the size of 1MDB’s debt that was guaranteed by the government, the difference between a letter of support and a government guarantee, status of the investment fund managed by Brazen Sky Ltd, and the issue of a RM2 billion repayment to Maybank Bhd.
“These were all damage control answers provided by Jho Low because the 1MDB scandal was raging in the media,” Amhari said in his witness statement.