KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): Former 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) chief executive officer Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi told the High Court here on Monday (Sept 30) that he had never questioned who decided on the total of US$576,943,490 (RM2.4bil) in security deposit payment to Aabar Investment PJS Ltd as he had assumed that it was agreed upon by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Shahrol Azral, 49, when reading his witness statement, said he had signed the remittance form totalling US$576,943,490 submitted by Terence Geh (1MDB director) without suspicions to be paid to Aabar Investment's account at BSI Bank SA, Lugano, Switzerland from the Falcon Private Bank (Hong Kong) account owned by 1MDB Energy Ltd (1MEL) as presented by 1MDB lawyer, Jasmine Loo.
"However, all fund-raising and guarantee aspects by International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC) were done with IPIC and Datuk Seri Najib's full support through Aabar (Mohamed Huseinny), Jho Low (wanted businessman, Low Taek Jho) and Jasmine Loo.
"I do not know who determined the payment amount of US$576,943,490 (security deposit) which in my opinion was very large compared to the total issued bonds of US$1.75bil. It had never been disclosed and I was not informed and I believe it had never been presented to the Board of Directors (BOD).
"However, I was not suspicious and did not question it because at that time I thought this was something that had been agreed upon by Datuk Seri Najib and IPIC, based on the action plan and my discussions with Jho Low," he said during senior deputy public prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram lead examination on the 15th day of Najib's 1MDB trial.
The ninth prosecution witness said he had also believed that the security deposit would be returned to the company when the initial public offering (IPO) for the 1MDB subsidiary's energy business were made for listing on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange.
"However, I found that the security deposit was never returned to the company despite there being no IPO conducted," he said.
The witness also confirmed the bank statement for 1MDB Energy Ltd's current account number 8009830 at Falcon Private Bank for May and June 2012.
"The US$907,500,000 deposit on May 22,2012, was part of a US$1.75bil bond issued for the purpose of the acquisition of Tanjong Energy Holding Sdn Bhd (TEHSB). To my knowledge, the transaction was made by The Bank of New York Mellon London directly into 1MDB Energy Limited's account.
"On the same date (May 22,2012), 1MDB Energy Limited made a withdrawal amounting to US$576,943,490 in reference to payment to Aabar Investments PJS Ltd through a remittance that was referred to me," he said.
Shahrol Azral said he had also signed a "Collaboration Agreement For Credit Enhancement" between 1MDB Energy Ltd and Aabar Investment PJS Ltd dated May 21,2012.
"I would like to clarify that the agreement document was prepared by Jasmine which I believed had obtained clearance from Jho Low.
"I signed this agreement on behalf of 1MDB Energy Limited. I signed on the last page of this document," he said when referred to the agreement document by Sri Ram.
The key prosecution witness explained that the bond negotiations from IPIC were very complex and involved a Government-Government or 'G2G' relationship between Abu Dhabi and Malaysia.
"Furthermore, this negotiation also involved the personal relationship between the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Datuk Seri Najib. So when Jasmine informed me of this credit enhancement, I was not suspicious and did not ask to review the terms involved.
"Jasmine also did not provide any details of the contents of the agreements. This is the agreement that justifies remittance to Aabar Investments PJS Limited," he said.
Shahrol Azral explained that when he signed the agreement on May 21,2012 representing 1MEL with Aabar Investment PJS Limited, he was confident of entering into a joint venture agreement with IPIC's subsidiary, Aabar, as the name of the company did not indicate a significant difference.
"This was because the address shown in this agreement was the exact address of Aabar Floor, 12th Floor, Ministry of Energy Building, Corniche Road, PO Bx 107888, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. I have been to this address to deal with IPIC and a valid Aabar, so it used a valid IPIC and Aabar address.
"The shortform used in this agreement was 'Aabar Investments'. So, I did not realise it was a separate company called Aabar Investments PJS (British Virgin Islands (BVI)). I only noticed after the 1MDB issue was linked to Aabar, that there a difference between the actual Aabar and the Aabar based in BVI, which is the last word, 'Limited'.
"Even the owner of Aabar which was IPIC was the the same person, Qubaishi, and the managing director and CEO of the actual Aabar Investment PJS was Husseiny. In fact, Jasmine and Jho Low were quite close to them. So, I did not realise at all that the agreement involved Aabar (BVI)," he said.
Najib, 66, faces four charges of abusing his position to obtain a bribe of RM2.3 billion in the 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount of funds.
The Pekan MP is alleged to have committed the four corrupt practices at the AmIslamic Bank Berhad branch, Jalan Raja Chulan, Bukit Ceylon here between Feb 24,2011 and Dec 19,2014 while all the money laundering charges between March 22,2013 and Aug 30,2013, were also allegedly committed at the same place.
The hearing before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues. - Bernama