KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here was today told that Low Taek Jho or Jho Low became the “matchmaker” between Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Goldman Sachs (Global) chief executive officer (CEO), Llyod Craig Blankfein for a meeting at Four Seasons Hotel, New York in 2009 to discuss cooperation between 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and Goldman Sachs in overseas investment.
Former 1MDB CEO, Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, 49, said at the end of Nov 2009, Najib who was the Prime Minister then held a meeting with foreign investors in New York, USA.
He said at that time, he had received a request from Jho Low to fly to New York with the Prime Minister to meet investors interested in dealing with 1MDB.
The important witness said he flew to USA with Tan Sri Che Lodin Wok Kamarudin (1MDB chairman) on November 21 2009 to meet the Prime Minister’s delegation and foreign investors.
“As I could remember, the next day on Nov 22 209, a meeting was held between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib and Goldman Sachs (Global) CEO, Llyod Craig Blankfein. Jho Low and Tim Leissner (Goldman Sachs Asia CEO) were the matchmakers for the meeting.
“Jho Low was facilitator for Datuk Seri Najib while Tim Leissner was the facilitator to Llyod Craig Blankfein. I saw at that time, Jho Low and Tim Leissner were very close based on “body language” and their conversation.
The meeting was held in Datuk Seri Najib’s suite at Four Seasons Hotel, New York,” he said during examination-in-chief by senior deputy public prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram on the 14th day of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s 1MDB trial.
Shahrol Azral said he learned from Jho Low that the meeting among others was to discuss cooperation between 1MDB and Goldman Sachs for investment abroad.
As he could remember, at that time Najib told Llyod to ask Goldman Sachs to support and consult 1MDB investors due to Goldman Sachs’ expertise in finance and investment.
“As I could remember, there was a bit of discussion on the sectors of investment for IMDB such as energy, properties, tourism and agriculture.
“I thought at that time the Prime Minister asked Goldman Sachs to commit to 1MDB. After the meeting, my confidence in the financial consultation with Goldman Sachs grew,” he said.
He said starting from the meeting, whenever there was a suggestion by Jho Low to bring in Goldman Sachs (Financial Advisor) into 1MDB financial and investment consultations, he assumed it was done with the knowledge of the Prime Minister.
He said he received a proposal from Jho Low to use Goldman Sachs in good faith as a meeting had been held at the highest level between the Prime Minister and Goldman Sach CEO for the cooperation.
“One of the investment sectors in 1MDB’s business strategy is the energy sector.
The initial idea to investment in Independent Power Producer (IPP) began about early May 2010 in which the internal team (investment and strategy team) presented the strategy of 1MDB and they found the study showed the need to increase the level of electricity generation in Peninsula Malaysia before 2016,” he said.
The witness said in 2010, he sent a letter to Najib who is the Prime Minister and Finance Minister to announce the proposed strategy and investment in IPP by 1MDB.
“Datuk Seri Najib had asked the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economic Planning Unit) who was at that time Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop to study the proposal,” he said.
Najib, 66, is facing four charges of abusing his position to corruptly obtain RM2.3 billion of 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering related to the money.
The Pekan MP allegedly committed the four offences at AmIslamic Bank Berhad, Jalan Raja Chulan branch, Bukit Ceylon here between Feb 24, 2011, and Dec 19, 2014, and the 21 charges, between March 22, 2013, and Aug 30, 2013, at the same place.
The trial is being held before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.