Former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz told the High Court here on Tuesday (Aug 15) that fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, had never visited her and cooked pasta for her family at her residence in Bukit Tunku in Kuala Lumpur.
The 76-year-old witness said this when asked by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah at the former premier’s trial involving the misappropriation of RM2.3bil in 1MDB funds.
Muhammad Shafee: When you were the BNM Governor, where was your residence?
Zeti: At Bukit Tunku, Jalan Tunku Puteri.
Muhammad Shafee: That was not very far from Najib’s house.
To Muhammad Shafee’s suggestion that Jho Low was in the habit of coming to her house on weekends to cook pasta for her family, Zeti disagreed, saying that it was “ridiculous and preposterous, it never happened”.
The 46th prosecution witness also denied that Jho Low was close with her family through her husband Datuk Dr Tawfiq Ayman as the duo were business partners.
She also said that she never received any expensive gift from Jho Low in her entire life.
Muhammad Shafee: There was an occasion when you met the PM (Najib) and you said that Jho Low was very fond of giving you expensive presents and that you said “I accepted them but I returned them since”.
Zeti: I never received any gift from anybody, including Jho Low.
Muhammad Shafee: Did you say this to the PM (Najib)?
Zeti: I don’t recall any discussion relating to gifts.
Muhammad Shafee: Did you recall the discussion about Jho Low with Najib?
Zeti: I don’t recall.
Meanwhile, Zeti also denied the allegation made by former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner during Roger Ng’s 1MDB trial in the New York court, where Leissner alleged that Zeti’s husband Tawfiq had received bribes so that the US$1bil meant for the 1MDB-Petrosaudi joint venture was able to leave the country without BNM’s approval.
Muhammad Shafee, when reading from the New York court’s transcript of Ng’s trial, said Leissner testified that BNM had to approve the US$1bil leaving Malaysia because, in 2009, Malaysia still had capital controls in place.
“The US$1bil was wired overnight out of Malaysia (to the JV company account overseas) and it had been done because the husband of the then governor Zeti at BNM had received a bribe to make that happen.
“Overnight, that money was transferred, which was unprecedented at that time. No approval was obtained that quickly with BNM,” claimed Leissner.
Muhammad Shafee: Tan Sri, you must have heard about this.
Zeti: He (Tawfiq) said he never received any bribe in his whole life. He made reference that he never met these two persons (Ng and Leissner).
Muhammad Shafee: Did BNM or you make any statement to refute this?
Zeti: We did not because we were told it would affect the case (Ng’s trial).
However, Zeti said her husband made a statement regarding the allegation because it was personal to him.
Najib, 70, faces four charges of using his position to obtain bribes amounting to RM2.3bil belonging to 1MDB and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.
The trial before Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues.