The High Court heard today that some people within Umno were jealous of Low Taek Jho or Jho Low’s influence over and access to former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Former chief executive officer of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi said Jho Low wanted to keep his involvement in 1MDB low-key so as not to jeopardise Najib’s position in Umno.
Shahrol, 49, testified that Jho Low told him that his (Jho Low’s) involvement, from 2009 to 2011, had to be kept low-key as some people within Umno were jealous of his (Jho Low’s) access to Najib.
The ninth prosecution witness said this during cross-examination by Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, counsel for Najib, on the 17th day of the former prime minister’s 1MDB corruption trial.
Shafee: In the DCR (Directors’ Circular Resolution) of 1MDB, you and Tan Sri Ismee Ismail (former member of 1MDB board of directors) openly appointed Jho Low as the company’s advisor, which means there was no problem that the image of Jho Low cannot be shown. There was no such problem?
Shafee: When did he become a problem?
Shahrol: This is my observation. He started to become a problem when Datuk Seri Najib became the sole shareholder and stakeholder in 1MDB.
And I guess there was a lot of envy from people within Umno over Jho Low’s influence over and access to Datuk Seri Najib. So, it made sense to me when Jho Low informed me that his involvement had to be kept low-key so as to not jeopardise Datuk Seri Najib’s position in Umno. That was the plan from 2010 onwards and I accepted his explanation.
Questioned by Shafee on Jho Low’s involvement in 1MDB, the witness said that from 2009 to 2011, not many people knew that Jho Low was playing a big role in Najib’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and even China at the time.
Shahrol also agreed with the lawyer’s suggestion that he was convinced that Jho Low was the one who had opened the doors in the three places.
Najib, 66, faces four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion from 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.
The hearing before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues tomorrow.