KUALA LUMPUR: Terengganu Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin had his reservations about fugitive financier Low Taek Jho and once described him as an unsavoury character.
This was at a time when 1MDB was still known as the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) and Sultan Mizan was the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah made this revelation on the 10th day of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) trial.
He questioned Najib’s former special officer Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin whether he knew that Low’s ultimate ambition was going after oil and gas in Terengganu.
Shafee: You knew, almost for certain. I will put it clearly so members of the press don’t report it wrongly. You knew the Sultan described Jho Low as an unsavoury character.
Amhari: From the minutes, there were questions raised about his role.
Shafee: It was widely known in Terengganu that the Sultan of Terengganu regarded Jho Low as such and said he is an unsavoury charater.
Amhari: I don’t know it that way.
Shafee: I put it to you that you knew the Sultan disliked him but you failed to communicate this to any of your boss in Kuala Lumpur and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) which includes Najib.
Amhari: I disagree
Shafee had earlier produced the 2008 annual report of UBG Bhd, where the chairman’s statement mentioned about the group’s strategic shift in business direction into infrastructure concession and oil and gas upstream and downstream, including exploration in Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak.
UBG is majority-owned by Low.
Amhari also said he did not know that TIA and UBG once shared the same office, to which Shafee said he would question former 1MDB CEO Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi later, as it was mentioned in Shahrol’s witness statement. – THE STAR
LIVE: Najib’s ex-aide says he destroyed many documents on Jho Low’s orders
THE Najib Razak trial over 1MDB enters its 10th day today with the accused’s former special officer Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin making a final appearance on the witness stand.
Lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told the Kuala Lumpur High Court yesterday that he expects to conclude cross examination of the prosecution’s eighth witness today.
Yesterday, Amhari denied he protected Low Taek Jho, who allegedly misrepresented himself as a royal adviser in 2008.
Shafee had accused Amhari of failing to inform his superiors of Low’s deception because he was “close to Jho Low”. Amhari denied both suggestions.
Seah, who was convicted in 2016, was one of the first people to be jailed for crimes related to the 1MDB financial scandal.
Amhari told the court he was not aware that he needed clearance from the central bank to receive US$200,000 (then about RM600,000) in his Maybank account in 2011.
Najib is on trial for four counts of power abuse to enrich himself with RM2.3 billion from 1MDB and 21 counts of money-laundering.
The 66-year-old is represented by a dozen lawyers led by Shafee Abdullah. Gopal Sri Ram, a former Federal Court justice, leads the prosecution while Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah presides.
The Malaysian Insight brings you today’s proceedings live:
11.55am: Amhari says that he was very nervous and scared about meeting Chinese officials in China.
Shafee: You keep stressing your importance in China as if you were 007 James Bond.
Amhari: That’s not true. I followed Jho Low and played along.
11.28am: Shafee continues cross-examination. He comes to the part in the witness’ statement where Amhari talks about going to China and Abu Dhabi to to discuss a bailout for 1MDB.
Amhari clarifies that it wasn’t a bailout. He said that this was to cover up something. He says he went to China to ensure cooperation between China and Malaysia. He says that Najib did not ask him to speak about 1MDB there.
11.27am: Court resumes.
Shafee tells judge Sequerah there are many parts in the witness statement that are hearsay and he will make a submission on them. Sequerah asks him to submit it at the end of the prosecution’s case.
11.01am: Court takes a recess
11am: Shafee suggests that Petrosaudi executives Patrick Mahony and Tarek Obaid tried to conceal information from Najib.
Shafee submits the article as exhibit.
10.48am: Shafee asks Amhari about the documents Xavier Justo sold to MACC.
Amhari says he is aware of it .
Shafee shows him an article based on Justo’s documents entitled “How Petrosaudi executives plotted what to tell Najib”.
The article is published by The Edge, which Shafee does not mention.
10.45am: Shafee recalls the witness’ statement that Low was a master manipulator.
Shafee: You didn’t suggest that Najib was a manipulator. You are alleging against Jho Low.
Amhari: I’m saying Jho Low is a master manipulator.
Shafee: You’re not saying your former boss was a manipulator?
Shafee: Just as you and Azlin have been manipulated by Jho Low. I’m suggesting that Najib also was manipulated by Jho Low.
Amhari: I agree. There’s a possibility. Can I add?
Shafee: No, I’m not interested in your adding.
10.35am: Shafee refers to the part of Amhari’s witness statement where he describes his boss Azlin, unexpectedly losing his cool and slamming a file on his table when the 1MDB scandal broke in 2015. Azlin had shouted “Duit 1MDB-lah, bro!”.
Shafee: When Azlin said this, he could have meant many things. You didn’t clear that with him?
Shafee: I’m putting it to you that he could’ve meant what went into Jho Low’s purchases was 1MDB money, that’s why he said “Duit 1MDB-lah, bro.”
Amhari: I can agree it’s one of the (possible) interpretations.
Shafee: Could he have said that because the person he thought he could trust, Jho Low, had betrayed the government? Is that one interpretation?
Amhari: I agree.
Shafee: Could his outburst have had to do with Najib?
Amhari: I don’t know.
10.30am: Amhari says he had to identify the documents in his cousin’s apartment.
Shafee: I’m putting it to you, this was your method of concealing them to use in the future. This was not a “lepas pandang” situation.
Amhari: I disagree.
Shafee: I put it to you that after the interrogation you decided to work with them (MACC) for a lighter sentence. As we can see you have not been charged. This was a tit-for-tat exchange with the MACC.
Amhari: I disagree.
10.23am: Amhari says he destroyed many documents on Low’s orders save for those recovered by MACC.
Shafee: For a long time you knew that Jho Low was a manipulator. You knew he was not right, that’s why you kept these documents?
Amhari: I disagree.
Shafee: This is why you led the MACC to places other than your house; you led them to another house. There’s a lady who lives there?
Amhari: My cousin.
Shafee: You kept a lot of important documents there at her place, why is that?
Amhari: Leading to the election last year, the chief of staff in the PMO had asked us to shred many documents and keep some relevant documents. At that time it was busy because of election preparation. The election work I was doing was mostly done at my house. It so happened that my house was busy and I needed help from my cousin. She helped me and I kept it. I thought I would get it back after but I didn’t.
Shafee: Yes, but you never kept any important documents in your house. This was purposefully organised by you in the event there were issues with Jho Low.
Amhari: I disagree. The documents were just boxed that way.
Shafee: MACC says that you knew the boxes and pointed them out when you went to your cousin’s apartment.
Amhari: They asked to give full cooperation and I decided it was time to give my cooperation. When I was there at my cousin’s place, she pointed out the boxes, not me.
10.10am: Shafee asks Amhari if the MACC had during the course of its investigation searched three places with which Amhari was associated. One of them was Low’s apartment in Jalan Kia Peng 3, another was Amhari’s current residence in Kota Damansara which Shafee refers to as No. 29.
At the second address, MACC had seized BlackBerry phones, two laptops and documents.
Amhari says the Blackberry devices were given to him by Low.
10.02am: Amhari says while he was in Khazanah, he also received a salary of RM25,000 by Orb Solutions.
Shafee suggests Najib had no knowledge he was being paid by Orb Solutions.
9.42am: Shafee begins cross-examination of witness.
Shafee suggests that Low Taek Jho had such close ties to the Terengganu Investment Authority that the company shared an office with Utama Banking Group.
Amhari says he didn’t know that.
9.41am: Sri Ram tells the court the Monday session will begin late as deputy public prosecutor Akram Gharib is appearing in another court.
Akram is filing an application to have Riza Aziz’s case transferred from the Sessions Court to the High Court.
Shafee tells the court he is also involved in the case.
9.37am: Witness Amhari takes the stand.
9.36am: Court is in session. – THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT
THE STAR / THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT