KUALA LUMPUR: A former aide of Najib Razak told the High Court here today why he did not raise the issue of fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho allegedly making false representations on behalf of Terengganu ruler Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin to the ex-prime minister.
Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin, Najib’s former special officer, said he was only a junior officer when he began working with Najib in 2008.
“At the early stage of working with Datuk Seri, I had very limited access to the prime minister,” he told the court.
“In fact, I only got my first instruction from him directly after eight months of working for him.”
He was responding to Najib’s lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who asked why he had not told his former boss about Low’s credibility after the businessman claimed he was Sultan Mizan’s adviser in a meeting at Istana Terengganu as well as subsequent meetings on Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA).
Amhari said he only brought up the issue to his immediate supervisor, Azlin Alias. Azlin, who was Najib’s principle secretary, died in April 2015.
“I had to go through Datuk Azlin, who was my immediate director,” Amhari said.
“We as juniors informed our bosses, and they would convey the message.”
When asked if junior civil servants were prohibited from voicing their doubts on Low during the meetings he had attended on behalf of the Prime Minister’s Office, Amhari said from his observations, there appeared to be an understanding that junior officers should not say anything.
He agreed to Shafee’s suggestion that Low continued to have influence in 1MDB after the federal government took over TIA in 2009.
Noting that there had been a list of individuals proposed for 1MDB’s board of directors including Najib, Nor Mohamed Yaakop, Khaldoon Al Mubarak and Bernard Arnault, Shafee also asked if this had been Low’s idea.
To this, Amhari said yes.
The hearing will continue this afternoon before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.
Najib is standing trial for 25 counts of money laundering and abuse of power charges over alleged 1MDB funds amounting to RM2.28 billion deposited in his AmBank accounts between February 2011 and December 2014.