KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Terengganu Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin had his reservations about fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, and once described him as an unsavoury character.
This was at a time when troubled state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) was still known as the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) and Sultan Mizan was the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. TIA was renamed 1MDB in September 2009.
Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak's lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah made this revelation on the 10th day of the 1MDB trial on Thursday (Sept 19).
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: Wasn't this one of the reasons that the state of Terengganu, particularly the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, was unhappy with Jho Low? They discovered later that he was manipulating TIA for that.
Amhari: I don't know.
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 character.
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.
Mr Shafee had earlier produced the 2008 annual report of UBG Bhd, where the chairman's statement mentioned the group's strategic shift in business direction into infrastructure concessions and oil and gas upstream and downstream, including exploration in Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak.
UBG is majority-owned by Low.
Mr Amhari also said he did not know that TIA and UBG once shared the same office, to which Mr Shafee said he would question former 1MDB chief executive officer Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi later, as it was mentioned in Datuk Shahrol's witness statement.