Jho Low 'controlled 1MDB from behind,' court told

KUALA LUMPUR: Fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low,"controlled 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) from behind" and used confidential emails, the High Court here heard.

Former 1MDB CEO Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi said this when testifying at the 1MDB trial of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak here on Monday (Sept 30).

He was asked about an email received from Jho Low - dealrainman1@gmail.com - which was a forwarded email from taiko_besar72@gmail.com. It was sent to Shahrol’s email address of shahrol@gmail.com at 9.50pm on Feb 6,2013.

The title of the forwarded email was “FWD: US6B NOTES, ETC” with attachments of “CATALYSE ANNEX LETTER AND 5 FEBRUARY 2013 – UPDATES FOR YAB PRIME MINISTER OF MALAYSIA”.

“I received this email from Low. It explained the proposal for a letter of comfort from the Finance Ministry in order to secure a US$6bil loan needed for the joint venture (JV) between Aabar Investment PJS and 1MDB," said Shahrol.

He said this during the examination-in-chief conducted by lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram.

Shahrol said the email was an example of confidential emails by Low, who “controlled 1MDB from behind”.

However, it was not explained who owned the taiko_besar72@gmail.com email address.

“This email contained the draft of an annexe letter and an explanatory note to Najib. The annexe letter contained the details of negotiations between 1MDB and Aabar,” he added.

“This email clearly showed that Jho had arranged everything and it was within Najib’s knowledge because he (Najib) had minuted my letter to expedite the matter despite it being common knowledge that it was not easy to obtain a letter of support (LOS) from the government,” the witness added.

Shahrol was referring to an LOS from the Finance Ministry to 1MDB Global Investment Ltd dated March 14, 2013.

The LOS written in support of 1MDB in the issuance of US$3bil in bonds was issued just two days after 1MDB and Aabar inked their JV on March 12,2013.

The JV was meant for investments in the property sector in Abu Dhabi and the Tun Razak Exchange.

In earlier testimony on Monday, the court heard from Shahrol that it was impossible for the Finance Ministry to issue the LOS in such a short span of time without the direct interference from Najib.

According to Shahrol, Low had fixed the fund amount at US$6bil by way of a 50:50 JV whereby 1MDB would have to inject half of the JV value at US$3bil.

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 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.

The trial continues before High Court judge Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah on Tuesday (Oct 1).

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Shahrol Azral , 1MDB , Najib , Jho Low , crime , court


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