The defence in Najib Razak’s 1MDB trial today suggested that it was not the accused but the Terengganu sultan who had the idea to establish the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA).
Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin, Najib’s former special officer, disagreed.
TIA was the precursor to 1MDB and Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin was then the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Amhari was questioned by Najib’s lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah in cross-examination on what he meant when saying that 1MDB is Najib’s “baby”.
Amhari told the High Court before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah that “baby” meant something held dearly by Najib, such as the 1MDB or policies he made.
Shafee: From the beginning, this was his idea? It is something important to him from the beginning?
Amhari: It’s his baby, It’s something important to him. I don’t know if it was his idea.
Shafee: It could be someone else’s idea?
Shafee: And you do not know who?
Amhari: Don’t know
Shafee: You realise that the idea to set up TIA, it was the idea of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong himself. Nobody else. I put it to you that you are aware of that.
Amhari: I don’t know.
Shafee then referred the court to a declassified Cabinet meeting minutes back in 2008 where Najib was still a deputy to then prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
He pointed out a page of the documents to Amhari, where Sultan Mizan proposed the setting up of TIA with RM10 billion.
He referred to the minutes which showed Najib informing the cabinet that TIA was “diilhamkan” (inspired) by Sultan Mizan.
“The cabinet was informed that the establishment of TIA would be good for Terengganu as it would generate revenue for the coming generations when the state runs out of oil,” said Shafee.
He added that fugitive financier Jho Low drafted the request for the proposal and that Low had shown interest from the very beginning.
Shafee: There are two things here, therefore don’t beat around the bush. This is the Sultan’s project, and Jho Low has been there as early as that.
Amhari: I know Jho Low has been early in this involvement in TIA. Early for sure. As far as the blessing of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, it didn’t occur to me that way that it was the Agong’s baby.
Shafee: It didn’t come to you that when you drafted your witness statement?
Amhari: I put it as Najib’s baby.
Shafee: You agree that you are quite wrong because documents speak louder than your words.
Amhari: It is possible.