KUALA LUMPUR: Former 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MBD) chief executive officer (CEO) Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi today denied that he foolishly believed fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low.
Shahrol Azral, 49, said at that time he had no reason to disbelieve Jho Low and that was why he did not double check with Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on certain instructions conveyed by Jho Low.
The ninth prosecution witness said this during cross-examination by Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah on the 21st day of Najib’s trial involving 1MDB funds.
Earlier, Muhammad Shafee had questioned the witness that with his paygrade, he should have done more to double check with Najib on matters instead of taking instructions from Jho Low
Muhammad Shafee: With 18 months bonus (as the CEO), don’t you think it is incumbent upon you to find out from the prime minister?
Shahrol Azral: I already did. In my mind, at that time, Jho Low and Najib were in constant touch. I had no reason to keep double checking whether what Jho Low was telling me was in fact Najib’s instructions or not.
Shahrol Azral explained that Article 117 of 1MDB’s Memorandum and Articles of Association stated that decisions on matters involving national finance, security and policy would be up to the prime minister.
“So that part, added together with what I believe at that time was Jho Low relaying instructions from Najib, I had no reason to double check,” said Shahrol Azral.
Muhammad Shafee then pointed out that at one stage, Shahrol Azral was on ‘messaging mode’ with Najib.
Muhammad Shafee: If I were to inspect Najib’s phone right now, your number is there. You were on messaging mode, is that correct?
Shahrol Azral: I messaged him maybe once a year….to wish Najib, happy birthday. I don’t send any significant messages to him.
Muhammad Shafee: Think carefully of your answer. Would you be surprised if we can reproduce the messages? Shahrol Azral replied “please do”.
Muhammad Shafee: I am not accusing you of anything. My point is that you were on messaging mode with the prime minister.
Shahrol Azral: I was able to message the prime minister. However, again, I was respectful I cannot simply message him for things I believe to be correct already. At that time I had no reason to disbelieve Jho Low.
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 trial before High Court Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues tomorrow.