Friday, December 3

PMO pushed for JV agreement between 1MDB-Aabar — Witness

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KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court yesterday was told that the joint venture (JV) agreement, rather than Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and Aabar Investment PJS was done in a hurry because it was directed by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

Former 1MDB chief executive officer Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi said although it was proper to sign the MoU first before inscribing the JV agreement, it was not necessary as the details on the agreement were moved by the PMO.

“I was told by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s former principal private secretary, the late Datuk Azlin Alias, that it was imperative to have the JV agreement ready before the visit of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to Malaysia, hence it needs to be done before his visit.

“I remember there was an email sent by Azlin, who forwarded us a copy of an email from Abu Dhabi entrepreneur, Khaldoon Khalifa Al-Mubarak stating the terms of the JV. It was sent late 2012 or early 2013. I took it in good faith it was a government-to-government (G2G) initiative,” said the ninth prosecution witness.

He said this during cross-examination by lawyer Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed at Najib’s RM2.3 billion 1MDB graft trial.

Shahrol Azral further clarified that it was not his idea to push for the timeline of the JV agreement because it was fully managed by 1MDB legal counsel, Jasmine Loo, and at the same time being moved forward by the PMO.

“The instruction (to finalise the JV agreement) came from PMO via the instruction and talking points from the fugitive businessman, Low Taek Jho or Jho Low.

“Among the things that were finalised in the agreement was 1MDB and Aabar need to inject RM3 billion each before the director of the JV company can be appointed,” he said.

The fundraising for the JV was part of the terms and conditions regarding a land deal on the development of Kuala Lumpur International Financial District (now known as TRX) between Aabar and 1MDB.

Wan Aizuddin then raised an issue regarding the agreement, where all the documents pertaining to the JV had been finalised, yet the agreement was never materialised until 2014.

Wan Aizuddin: What else the JV is lacking that the JV company is still waiting to execute the development?

Shahrol Azral: We are waiting for a similar indication from Aabar that they have injected the RM3 billion. At the company level, all parties need to do the sign-off.

Wan Aizuddin: So there was no confirmation that Aabar has injected the RM3 billion on their part?

Shahrol Azral: No and the terms of the agreement was never revisited.

Wan Aizuddin: What did you know about the RM3 billion (from 1MBD side) that has been raised for the purpose of the JV?

Shahrol Azral: From what I remember, it was kept in 1Malaysia Development Berhad Global Investment Limited (1MDB GIL) account and managed in cash management account that generated income return while we wait for the JV to be finalised.

Najib, 67, 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 Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues Sept 1. – Bernama