KUALA LUMPUR: A witness told the High Court here yesterday that Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low was already familiar with Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his family, long before he himself came to know the fugitive businessman.
Najib’s former special officer Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin, 43, said Jho Low shared with him about his friendship with Najib and his family on their first meeting in Penang in 2007, before he began serving the former premier.
“The first time I met Jho Low, he was talking actively about Najib and his family. It reflects that Jho Low has known Najib for a long time,” he said when cross-examined by Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah on the sixth day of the former premier’s 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) trial.
Nevertheless, Amhari Efendi, who is one of the key prosecution witnesses agreed with Muhammad Shafee’s suggestion that he did not have any independent evidence to show that Jho Low knew Najib earlier and only depended on what Jho Low told him.
Muhammad Shafee: Between you and Najib’s then principal private secretary, the late Datuk Azlin Alias, you knew Jho Low earlier?
Amhari Efendi: Yes.
On another issue, the eighth prosecution witness told the court that he did not have full knowledge of 1MDB’s debt dispute with International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) when he was sent to Abu Dhabi for negotiations in 2016.
“To be honest, Yang Arif, I did not understand the full scale of the IPIC issue and I was only taking instructions. I didn’t have full information on IPIC,” he said.
Amhari Efendi said he was also not aware that Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company had invested US$1.2 billion in the Iskandar Malaysia project in 2018.
“I only knew that there was an Iskandar Regional Development Authority Act 2007, but I did not know much about the project,” he said adding that his task then was only to accompany his boss at the time, minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Mohd Effendi Norwawi.
“I followed my boss (Mohd Effendi) into the meeting, hold the files of whatever was being discussed, and see if there were any instructions from him,” Amhari Efendi said.
Meanwhile, the witness admitted that he did not declare the US$200,000 loan he obtained from Jho Low, to the government.
Muhammad Shafee: Did you pay interest on the US$200,000 loan? Amhari Efendi: No interest.
Muhammad Shafee: Did you realise that it was an offence (not to declare the US$200,000)? Amhari Efendi: I did not realise, know or was clear that it was an offence.
When asked by Muhammad Shafee on the date he received the US$200,000 from Jho Low, Amhari Efendi could not provide the answer, explaining that the ‘document’ (bank statement) had been seized by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
Muhammad Shafee: Can you trace it from your account?
Amhari Efendi: I’ll try.
In previous proceedings, the witness told the court that Jho Low lent him US$200,000 without any loan agreement to buy a house worth RM1.85 million in Kota Damansara in 2010.
He denied that Jho Low had recommended him to be a special officer to Najib, who was then deputy prime minister.
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 member of parliament 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 money laundering offences, between March 22, 2013 and Aug 30, 2013, at the same place. — Bernama