Ex-1MDB chief denies deal with prosecution to evade criminal charges

Former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi.

PETALING JAYA: Former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi today denied making any deals with the public prosecutor in order to avoid criminal charges regarding the sovereign wealth fund.

He told the High Court in Najib Razak’s 1MDB case that he was only called to assist as a witness in investigations by the police and anti-graft agency.

“I was called by the CCID sometime in 2016 and 2017,” he said, referring to Bukit Aman’s Commercial Crime Department.

“They did not arrest or remand me.”

Shahrol was replying to Najib’s lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, on whether authorities launched investigations against him after the Public Accounts Committee in 2016 recommended that he be probed for financial irregularities.

He also said no suit was filed against him by the government for negligence concerning his role in the company.

“My passport was always with me,” he added. “The travel restrictions imposed against me in July 2018 were lifted in January.”

Shafee then said the defence had brought up a series of events showing the involvement of former company management personnel and Singaporean bankers “in a conspiracy to mislead 1MDB”.

“Some of them like Amhari, Azmi and you were not charged in court,” he added, referring to Najib’s former special officer Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin and former 1MDB chief financial officer Azmi Tahir.

“I put it to you that as CEO, you should have been charged.”

However, deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib objected, saying this was not a fair question.

Shafee then said Shahrol should answer in his defence, to which Shahrol said he did not agree.

Najib was slapped with 25 charges of abuse of power and money laundering over alleged 1MDB funds amounting to RM2.28 billion deposited in his AmBank accounts between February 2011 and December 2014.

The hearing continues on July 15 before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

The prosecution told the court they would be calling former Singaporean bankers Yak Yew Chee and Kevin Michael Swampillai to testify.

Swampillai was BSI Singapore’s head of wealth management services while Yak was the managing director.

In 2016, Yak pleaded guilty to charges of forgery and failure to flag suspicious transactions, for which he was jailed 18 weeks and fined SG$24,000.

The Singapore government also ordered the country’s BSI branch to shut down, citing “serious breaches of anti-money laundering requirements, poor management oversight and gross misconduct by some of the bank’s staff”.

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