Friday, August 14

Jho Low responsible for preparing 1MDB action plans, Najib’s talking points — Witness


KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here yesterday was told that the fugitive businessman Low Teak Jho or Jho Low was entrusted with the responsibility of preparing 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s (1MDB) action plan and also the talking points of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Former 1MDB chief executive officer Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi said during his tenure as the CEO of 1MDB, he was discouraged to go beyond the talking points and action plans given to him.

“Actually, I was discouraged from finding out further. It’s hard to say if there was any obstruction but throughout my tenure as the CEO from 2009 to 2013, I have always felt that I was discouraged to be a busybody,” said the witness.

The ninth prosecution witness said this during cross-examination by Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, on the 25th day of the former premier’s 1MDB trial.

Muhammad Shafee: As a CEO, you cannot inquire about matters regarding 1MDB? Shahrol Azral: I was discouraged to go beyond the talking points and action plans given to me. I recalled a corporate social responsibility (CSR) event in 2011 or 2012, when I was standing next to Najib, and I asked if the then PM could speak to PSI (PetroSaudi International Limited) about getting 1MDB money back, Najib said, “talk to Jho Low”.

Muhammad Shafee: Did you, at the time, believe in Jho Low?

Shahrol Azral: Yes.

Muhammad Shafee: But no one stopped you from finding out?

Shahrol Azral: Nobody stopped me.

Explaining in detail about working in ‘Team Najib’, the 49-year-old witness said that it meant that everyone was working in silos without getting the complete picture of what was going on.

“I recognise that working in ‘Team Najib’ involves working in silos where we may not have visibility over what’s happening with the other silos.

“So when Jho Low represented to me that something must be done by a certain day, and that keeping the Arabs happy is important, I took it in good faith that this is the role that myself and 1MDB were supposed to take,” he said.

When asked who was organising this ‘silo programme’, the witness said his interface was with Jho Low.

Muhammad Shafee: So, Jho Low was organising this ‘silo programme’?

Shahrol Azral: At that time I believed that the responsibility of managing the details was given to Jho Low by Najib so Najib wouldn’t have to worry about the details.

Jho Low figures it out and gives us the action plans and talking points to complete the task.

He is very good at orchestrating.

Muhammad Shafee: You therefore confirm that Najib himself would not have known about the details?

Shahrol Azral: I cannot testify what he knew or not. I didn’t inquire beyond my silos.

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.

Hearing before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues on Thursday. — Bernama