Witness says 1MDB Najib's baby, defence suggests it's Terengganu Sultan's idea

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 17 Sep 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: The eighth day of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) trial saw the defence suggesting that the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) was an idea by Terengganu ruler Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin who was then the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin, who is Datuk Seri Najib Razak's former special officer, disagreed.

He was questioned by Najib's lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah in cross-examination on what he meant when saying that 1MDB is Najib's "baby".

Amhari told the High Court before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah that "baby" meant something held dearly by Najib, such as the 1MDB or policies he made.

"It's something that Najib wants to carry (out) and it's important to him," Amhari said.

Shafee: From the beginning, this was his idea? It is something important to him from the beginning?

Amhari: It's his baby, It's something important to him. I don't know if it was his idea.

Shafee: It could be someone else's idea?

Amhari: Yes

Shafee: And you do not know who?

Amhari: Don't know

Shafee: You realise that the idea to set up TIA, it was the idea of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong himself. Nobody else. I put it to you that you are aware of that.

Amhari: I don't know.

Shafee then referred the court to a declassified Cabinet meeting minutes back in 2008 where Najib was still a deputy to then prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

He pointed out a page of the documents to Amhari, where Sultan Mizan, who was then the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, proposed the setting up of TIA with RM10bil.

Shafee also highlighted another page where the proposal by Sultan Mizan was to ensure the sustainability and resilience of the Terengganu economy was taken care of.

He added that fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, who is commonly known as Jho Low, drafted the request for the proposal and that Low had shown interest from the very beginning.

Shafee: There are two things here, therefore don't beat around the bush. This is the Sultan's project, and Jho Low has been there as early as that.

Amhari: I know Jho Low has been early in this involvement in TIA. Early for sure. As far as the blessing of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, it didn't occur to me that way that it was the Agong's baby.

Shafee: It didn't come to you that when you drafted your witness statement?

Amhari: I put it as Najib's baby.

Shafee: You agree that you are quite wrong because documents speak louder than your words.

Amhari: It is possible.

Najib, 66, faces 25 charges in total – four for abuse of power that allegedly brought him financial benefit to the tune of RM2.3bil; and 21 for money laundering involving the same amount of money.

He was charged with the four abuse of power charges under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act, punishable under Section 24(1) of the same law.

He faces imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine of up to five times the sum or value of the gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher if found guilty.

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