I was stunned when Najib approved 1MDB taking loan to buy back shares, says ex-CEO

Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman said 1MDB had decided to redeem the 49% share option granted to Aabar Investment PJS through two subsidiary companies.

KUALA LUMPUR: Former 1MDB CEO Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman told the Najib Razak trial that he was taken aback when the former prime minister signed papers approving another US$975 million loan to buy back company shares from Aabar Investment PJS.

He said he had not “received any information” that 1MDB needed to borrow US$975 million, known as a facility loan, from Deutsche Bank to repay an earlier US$250 million bridging loan it had taken from the same bank.

“Datuk Seri Najib, who was the shareholder, had signed both resolutions required under the law,” Hazem said.

He added that his then colleague and chief financial officer Azmi Tahir was also equally in the dark.

“Azmi later found out and informed me that Terence (Geh Choh Heng) and Jasmine (Loo Ai Swan) were handling the matter with Deutsche Bank, under Jho Low’s (Low Taek Jho) instructions,” Hazem said, referring to 1MDB executive director Geh and general counsel Loo.

He told the court that in 2014, 1MDB had decided to redeem the 49% share option granted to Aabar Investment PJS through two subsidiary companies.

The subsidiary companies – 1MDB Energy Ltd and 1MDB Energy (Langat) Sdn Bhd – were set up to enable 1MDB to acquire shares in two independent power producers (IPPs), Tanjong Energy Holdings Sdn Bhd and Mastika Lagenda Sdn Bhd.

The court previously heard that a total of US$3.5 billion was raised by Goldman Sachs, through bonds issuance, for both IPPs. Aabar assisted 1MDB Energy and 1MDB Energy (Langat) to obtain the bonds’ guarantee from IPIC.

Hazem said:”We needed to redeem the Aabar shares as it was an obstacle for us to be listed on Bursa Malaysia. The Securities Commission would reject our application if it found out other entities held shares in 1MDB Energy and 1MDB Langat.”

The witness said 1MDB had no choice but to take up the first Deutsche Bank loan of US$250 million as its investment in a fund manager company, Brazen Sky Ltd, could not be repatriated.

The prosecution contended that over US$175 million, from the US$250 million bridging loan, was paid to Aabar BVI’s BSI bank account, allegedly to “redeem the option given as additional security” to purchase the two IPPs.

Meanwhile, over US$690 million from the US$975 million facility loan was deposited in Aabar Seychelles’ account between Sept 3 and Sept 30, 2014.

The prosecution said it would adduce evidence to show that part of the US$1.23 billion, or RM49.9 million, had ended up in Najib’s bank account.

The hearing continues before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah on Sept 17.

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