Ex-1MDB CEO denies attending meetings with Jho Low to defraud company

Former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi denies he was present at certain meetings allegedly attended by ex-Goldman Sachs bankers.

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today heard that a series of meetings were held between fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low and other key figures in the 1MDB case to embezzle millions of dollars from the sovereign wealth fund.

The contention was made by lawyer Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed during cross-examination of former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi in Najib Razak’s RM2.3 billion 1MDB graft trial.

The ninth prosecution witness, however, denied that he was present at such meetings, which were also allegedly attended by ex-Goldman Sachs bankers Tim Leissner and Roger Ng, 1MBD’s chief financial officer Terence Geh and general counsel Jasmine Loo.

Yesterday, the court heard that Goldman Sachs was appointed to represent 1MDB in February 2012 in the acquisition of Tanjong Energy Holdings Sdn Bhd.

Wan Aizuddin: In order to embezzle the money with the assistance of Goldman Sachs, you were tasked by Jho Low and Roger Ng to ensure Goldman Sachs was appointed as financial adviser of 1MDB.

Shahrol Azral: I disagree.

Wan Aizuddin: I put it to you, that you had actively supported all of Goldman Sachs proposals in all of 1MDB board of directors meetings, including the overpriced Tanjong Energy acquisition.

Shahrol Azral: I disagree.

Shahrol Azral also disagreed with the suggestion that he had been promised kickbacks.

Earlier, Wan Aizuddin referred the witness to minutes during earlier days of 1MDB, when the sovereign wealth fund was still known as Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), where the Terengganu palace had raised questions about Jho Low at a meeting that Shahrol Azral attended.

Wan Aizuddin: The reason why I’m showing you this is based on the view of the palace – they were worried Jho Low would misuse the palace’s name. At this point, even if you believe Jho Low was working for the company’s best interests, wouldn’t this trigger your suspicion?

Shahrol Azral: Jho Low had informed me that this issue would come up, so it didn’t trigger any suspicion in my mind.

Wan Aizuddin: I honestly find this unbelievable. You were dealing with the palace, yet you still chose to believe Jho Low of all people?

Shahrol Azral: Yes.

Further questioned by the lawyer, the witness reiterated that Jho Low was acting in good faith and he denied being complicit with Jho Low in defrauding 1MDB’s money.

The court also heard that no enquiry was conducted against Geh when US$500 million (RM1.8 billion at that time) was transferred out from 1MDB’s account in 2012.

Wan Aizuddin: He (Geh) came up with this amount, I mean with the instruction letter, you agreed and signed?

Shahrol Azral: Yes

The witness replied in the negative to the lawyer’s suggestion that he had breached fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the company.

Najib, 67, faces four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion from 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.

The trial before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues tomorrow.

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