Jho Low put out fires after 1MDB made headlines, witness says

Najib Razak’s former special officer Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur today.

KUALA LUMPUR: Fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho was personally involved in attending to negative reports when the local and foreign media exposed the 1MDB scandal five years ago, a witness told the High Court here today.

Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin, Najib Razak’s former special officer, said Low, better known as Jho Low, would personally prepare answers to counter media reports.

“He would also direct Najib’s then-confidential secretary, Azlin Alias, to do damage control or follow up to calm down the 1MDB issue,” he said when examined by deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib.

Amhari, the eighth prosecution witness, said the misappropriation of funds from the state investment arm was aggressively debated in the media between late 2014 and early 2015.

“During that time, the 1MDB issue was frequently featured in Sarawak Report, Wall Street Journal and The Malaysian Insider, and Jho Low had to intervene,” he said.

It was reported at the time that millions of ringgit, believed to be from 1MDB, were funnelled into Najib’s private bank accounts.

Najib is facing 25 charges of money laundering and abuse of power over alleged 1MDB funds in his AmBank accounts.

He is accused of abusing his position to obtain RM2.28 billion in bribes in February 2011 and December 2014.

He is also said to have transferred RM2.28 billion in illegal funds to his bank accounts and to have subsequently used the money.

Amhari said the continuous expose in the local and foreign media had been a cause of concern in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and had shocked him and Azlin.

“During this period, Jho Low would also send notes to me and Azlin to inform the staff at the PMO that this was the work of the opposition and those who wanted to see Najib toppled,” he added.

Amhari said after Najib was implicated in the 1MDB matter, Azlin had to work hard to protect the latter’s image as that was part of his job scope.

He also said Jho Low appeared to be a master in manipulating civil servants, including those who served overseas, and that Najib was aware of this.

“I can now say that I, too, was used by Jho Low for insincere motives,” he said, adding that he and Azlin came to their senses after the 1MDB scandal was exposed in the media.