KUALA LUMPUR: Former 1MDB chief executive officer Shahrol Azrol Ibrahim Halmi told the Najib Razak 1MDB trial that fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho has the ability to persuade people into believing they are receiving “legitimate” funds from him.
“I would go further to say that he made people comfortable that he was acting in their best interest and that what he did was legitimate,” he said in response to a question about Low by Najib’s lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
Shahrol also said Low, better known as Jho Low, was deemed a shadow director in 1MDB and that he acted on behalf of the shareholder (Najib).
Shafee: You did not speak to the prime minister to get his instructions and you treated Jho Low like a shadow director?
The prosecution, in its opening statement, contended that Low was Najib’s “mirror image” and that it would establish facts to show that the duo acted as one at all material times.
Shahrol said Low gave talking points to him on the proposed reinvestment of 1MDB’s funds in a hedge fund operated by a Cayman Island company.
1MDB poured over US$1.8 billion into its joint venture with Petro Saudi International from 2009. The investment was later converted into Islamic murabaha notes. By 2012, the notes were said to be worth US$2.22 billion.
Shahrol said it was Low who proposed that 1MDB set up a company, Brazen Sky Limited, in British Virgin Island, in an attempt to repatriate the money to Malaysia.
The prosecution claims 1MDB was holding “worthless papers” by 2012, after the company’s joint venture with Petro Saudi International ended.
Before adjourning the hearing to tomorrow, trial judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah asked deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib how many witnesses the prosecution intended to call.
Akram said the prosecution had 55 witnesses lined up, and after Shahrol, they intended to call his successor, Mohd Hazem Abd Rahman.
Shafee informed the judge that he needed to cover issues on three phases of 1MDB projects with Shahrol and that the defence needed about three weeks to question him.
Najib is standing trial on 25 charges 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.
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