Najib: Jho Low set up my meetings with Saudi King

KUALA LUMPUR • Fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho was the one who arranged meetings between former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak and Saudi Arabia ruler, King Abdullah Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the Kuala Lumpur High Court heard yesterday.

Najib, who was testifying in his criminal trial, said Low - better known as Jho Low - had told him that King Abdullah admired Malaysia's ability to practise moderation in Islam and equality between Muslims and non-Muslims.

The meetings between Najib and the King took place during a series of visits to Riyadh and Jeddah.

The former premier is facing seven charges - three for criminal breach of trust, one for abuse of power and three for money laundering - involving RM42 million (S$13.7 million) from former 1MDB unit SRC International.

Najib said Low told him in mid-2010 that King Abdullah wanted to support Najib's leadership in the form of personal donations.

He told the court: "From 2011 until 2014, I received a huge amount of money that I believed was a donation from King Abdullah as a sign of his support. Jho Low was the connection in the matter and I believed he arranged the donations for the Saudi royal family."

He said he and recipient bank AmBank received several letters about the donations.

Najib later told the court that he y found out that some US$1.05 billion (S$1.43 billion) had been wired into his personal bank account between 2011 and 2013 only after his statement was taken by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

The money was wired to his AmBank account in several tranches from different foreign senders.

Najib said he was also shown letters from a representative of King Abdullah saying that the King had bestowed the monies on him and he could spend it as he wished.

"The letters were shown to me by my late principal private secretary, Datuk Seri Azlin Alias, who informed me that he had received the same letters from fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low.

"I understood that the letters were given to AmBank by Jho Low and they were also reported to Bank Negara and its governor then, Tan Sri Zeti Abdul Aziz," he said, referring to Malaysia's central bank.

He said the funds were spent on corporate social responsibility activities as well as the general election that year to ensure that Barisan Nasional would remain as the government of the day.

"This was to ensure political stability and aligned with what King Abdullah wanted," he added.

The hearing continues on Monday.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2019, with the headline 'Najib: Jho Low set up my meetings with Saudi King'. Print Edition | Subscribe