KUALA LUMPUR: Najib Razak’s 1MDB trial was told today that Terengganu ruler Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin mooted the idea of setting up a sovereign fund, the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), to generate revenue for the East Coast state.
Lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, representing Najib, pointed out that Sultan Mizan had told then prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi about the idea, with a RM10 billion start-up fund.
He said that according to declassified Cabinet meeting papers dated Dec 12, 2009, the RM10 billion would be raised through the sale of bonds in foreign and local markets.
TIA was the precursor to 1MDB.
Shafee said Abdullah had informed his then Cabinet ministers at a meeting that Sultan Mizan had suggested TIA to ensure Terengganu’s income would be sufficient for future development expenses
Shafee then asked Najib’s former aide, Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin, whether he knew that it was Sultan Mizan who had mooted the idea of setting up TIA.
The lawyer pointed out that Amhari’s witness statement tendered in court had said TIA was Najib’s “baby” but that Cabinet meetings showed otherwise.
In response, Amhari said he stood by his statement.
Amhari also told the court he was unsure whether fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, had made suggestions to three foreign banks – JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Nomura Securities Malaysia Sdn Bhd – to put in their applications to help TIA raise the funds.
To a question on Low’s role in TIA, Amhari said the businessman was involved in facilitating the setting up of the then state sovereign fund.
Najib faces 25 counts of money laundering and abuse of power over alleged 1MDB funds amounting to RM2.28 billion deposited in his AmBank accounts between February 2011 and December 2014.
The hearing before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues.