KUALA LUMPUR: Former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi told the Najib Razak 1MDB trial today that fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho had nominated Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman as his (Shahrol’s) successor.
Shahrol said Low passed Hazem’s curriculum vitae to him, and that Low had said the recommendation had come from Najib’s then principal private secretary Azlin Alias who has since died.
“I recall there was a letter signed by Datuk Seri (Najib) on his first appointment as COO,” he said, responding to lawyer Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed’s question as to how Hazem took over from him.
Shahrol said he (Shahrol) was transferred to the Performance and Management Delivery Unit or Pemandu on March 15, 2013, adding that he suspected his transfer was because he had questioned certain 1MDB business transactions that had been done hastily.
Hazem took charge as CEO and managing director on March 23, 2013. He left 1MDB on Jan 5, 2015 and was replaced by Arul Kanda Kandasamy.
Shahrol told the High Court that when Hazem joined as COO in 2012, he assigned Hazem to oversee 1MDB’s real estate project for the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX).
However, he denied Aizuddin’s suggestion that Hazem’s appointment, proposed by Low, was part of the Penang businessman’s “continuous scheme” to embezzle 1MDB funds.
“I cannot comment on that,” Shahrol said, to another question as to whether his passing the “baton” to Hazem meant the latter would now take instructions from Low as Shahrol used to.
The hearing continues before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah from Aug 17 to 19 and Sept 1 to 3.
“I hope you can finish (cross examining) Shahrol by then,” the judge said.
Shahrol has been on the witness stand for 35 days since Sept 23, 2019.
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.