1MDB trial: Ex-CEO says Jho Low involved in key management decisions

The court heard that fugitive Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho had pressured for 1MDB's speedy acquisition of power plant Tanjong Energy Holdings.
The court heard that fugitive Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho had pressured for 1MDB's speedy acquisition of power plant Tanjong Energy Holdings.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR - Fugitive Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho was involved in several management decisions at troubled state fund 1MDB, the Malaysian High Court heard on Monday (Sept 30), including suggesting Goldman Sachs as its financial adviser.

Former 1MDB chief executive officer Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi told the court that, following Low's proposal, the US investment bank was selected as the group's adviser.

The 1MDB board of directors was informed of the selection during its special meeting on June 21, 2012.

Datuk Shahrol, the ninth prosecution witness, was testifying at the 1MDB trial implicating Malaysia's former prime minister Najib Razak.

Najib, 66, is facing four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion (S$760 million) from 1MDB funds, besides 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.

Mr Shahrol, 49, told the court last week that Najib had full knowledge of the 1MDB investment deals that went awry after the funds were siphoned off by Low, who is widely known as Jho Low.

The former CEO had also described to the court that Low and Najib had a symbiotic relationship, with the former executing the wishes of the latter and the latter approved decisions.

Mr Shahrol was 1MDB's first CEO after its morphed from Terengganu Investment Authority in 2009, soon after Najib became prime minister.

The court heard on Monday that Low had pressured for 1MDB's speedy acquisition of power plant Tanjong Energy Holdings.

 
 
 
 

Low, whose whereabouts are unknown, had also arranged for the security deposit payment of US$576.94 million to be made to Aabar Investment PJS Ltd (Aabar BVI), Mr Shahrol said.

Aabar BVI is a "fake" company incorporated by him with his associates in British Virgin Islands (BVI), the court heard.

The funds were transferred to Aabar BVI instead of a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum International Corp called Aabar Investment PJS.

"... I would certainly not have approved the remittance if I had known that it was for misappropriation. Only after the investigation was carried out that I know the security deposit arranged by Jho Low to enable the 1MDB funds to be deposited into the account controlled by him was for the purpose of misappropriation," he said.

Mr Shahrol said Low had also told him that the 50:50 Aabar joint venture with 1MDB would have a major impact on the 13th general election, which was held in 2013.

"I did not ask further about it. I merely concluded that the fundraising definitely has something to do with GE13," he said, referring to the 1MDB director circular resolution (DCR) passed on Feb 25, 2013, to form a joint venture with Aabar for global investments.