KUALA LUMPUR — More scandals involving 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) were uncovered at Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s trial this week, such as alleged siphoning of funds into joint ventures purportedly for the purpose of raising funds for the 13th general election (GE13).
In the midst of it all was Terengganu Investment Authority Berhad (TIA) later 1MDB former chief executive officer Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, 49, whom the prosecution called as the ninth and one of its key witnesses.
The former prime minister now 66, is facing four charges of having used his position to obtain gratification totalling RM2.3 billion from 1MDB and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same funds.
Najib, who is also 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, at the same place between March 22, 2013, and Aug 30, 2013.
Following are highlights of the evidence presented by the witness before High Court Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah:
DAY 15 (Sept 30):
- An excess of US$790,354,855.00 in security deposit paid to Aabar Investment PJS Ltd (Aabar) by 1MDB was credited into Najib’s account.
- The payment was related to the acquisition of Genting (Genting Sanyen), which was concluded with financing via a RM700 million bridging loan and issuance of bonds worth US$1.75 billion.
- The witness himself noted that there was a huge excess from the financing for the acquisition. But he had no idea that the excess in security deposit payment totalling US$790,354,855.00 to Aabar was intended for fraud by others.
- The security deposit payment was made in good faith based on documentation prepared by Jasmine Loo (1MDB’s lawyer), Terence Geh (1MDB director) and Tim Leissner (Goldman Sachs, Asia CEO).
- The witness only learnt during the investigation that the security deposit was arranged by Jho Low (fugitive businessman, Low Taek Jho) to enable 1MDB funds to go into accounts under his control and subsequently deposited into Datuk Seri Najib’s account.
The joint venture between 1MDB and Aabar Investment PJS Ltd (Aabar) was for purpose of fundraising for the 13th General Election (GE13) and the collaboration between the two companies was suggested by Najib himself.
- Jho Low informed the witness that the joint venture with Aabar would have a huge impact on GE13.
- Jho Low was given the mandate to pass Najib’s instructions on management of 1MDB.
- Witness was convinced that although Jho Low had no official power in 1MDB, he had, from the very beginning, the mandate to pass Datuk Seri Najib’s instructions on to him and the entire 1MDB management.
- 1MDB could no longer engage in any more loan agreements after May 2009 without Najib’s approval.
- After TIA which morphed into 1MDB received federal government guarantee in May 2009, it was restricted from engaging in any new loan agreements except with the approval of the Finance Minister under the Loan Guarantee (Bodies Corporate) Act 1965.
- Witness realised the pattern of leakages from 1MDB from 2009 through 2013 had always been to borrow funds for projects that were ostensibly good for the nation, and then siphon some of the borrowed funds.He said over the years, the method was refined and tightened up, leaving less and less room for discussion on fundraising by the management of 1MDB and its Board of Directors (BOD).
- Witness could tell from the body language of both Najib and Jho Low that they were “positive and very comfortable” with each other based on his observation on numerous occasions when Jho Low was at Najib’s house.
- Jho Low was not only familiar with the layout of Najib’s home but also with the accused’s family members from the way he talked about them.
- Witness was instructed to leave the country by Najib’s office to avoid a Public Accounts Committee hearing in Parliament in 2015.
- The witness who was appointed as 1MDB CEO in 2009 and ordered to move to Pemandu, the government’s performance management and delivery unit on March 15, 2013, said then 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy told him that the PMO had instructed him to travel overseas to avoid the first PAC meeting.
- Witness said he flew to Singapore for one day.