I hired Casey based on Jho Low’s recommendation, says ex-1MDB CEO

Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi says former 1MDB executive director Tang Keng Chee was ‘basically my No. 2’.

KUALA LUMPUR: Former 1MDB chief executive officer Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi told the High Court today he hired former executive director Tang Keng Chee based on fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho’s recommendation.

He said the appointment of Tang, better known as Casey, as an executive director in charge of investment and business development did not require the consent of Najib Razak, as chairman of the 1MDB advisory board.

“The company secretary (Lim Poh Seng) had advised me that Article 97 of 1MDB’s memorandum and articles of association does not apply to Casey,” he said when questioned by Najib’s lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

Shafee told Shahrol that under the company’s constitution, the 1MDB board of directors was responsible for hiring the senior management team members to run the company’s day-to-day activities and the appointment could not be formalised without the prime minister’s approval.

Shahrol said he hired Tang based on the recommendation of Low, better known as Jho Low.

“He was basically my No. 2,” he said.

Yesterday, Shahrol had informed the court that Tang told him it was “okay” to sign 1MDB’s US$1 billion deal with a Caribbean company, purported to be a subsidiary company for Petro Saudi International.

Tang, who is Low’s associate, was one of the four individuals sought by authorities over the 1MDB investigations. He left Malaysia before the May 9, 2018 general election.

He was also charged in absentia last year with criminal breach of trust (CBT) over the misappropriation of US$700 million in 1MDB funds transferred to Low’s company, Good Star Limited, as well as money laundering offences.

Today, Shahrol was also questioned by Shafee on whether Najib was exercising his powers under the law to sign documents related to 1MDB.

Shafee pointed out that 1MDB is a company under Minister of Finance Incorporated (MoF Inc) and companies under MoF Inc need to follow guidelines and regulations from the government.

Shahrol agreed to the suggestion made by Shafee.

“I would say that he signed in the capacity which he was required to do so under the law as finance minister.

“But, for the case in 2012 on 1MDB power plant purchases, I’m just curious, could the second finance minister at that time also sign on behalf of MoF Inc?” Shahrol asked, after he was questioned repeatedly on whether Najib was exercising his statutory duties.

Ahmad Husni Mohamaed Hanadzlah served as second finance minister during Najib’s administration from 2009 to 2016. He was later replaced by Johari Abdul Ghani.

Shafee told Shahrol there was another provision on subsidiary legislation that allowed delegation of powers. He said he had not gone into it yet during the cross-examination.

Najib is standing trial on 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.

The hearing continues before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues.