KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): The High Court here has been told that former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had an “interest” in the RM18bil joint venture (JV) agreement between 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and the subsidiary of International Petroleum Investment Co, Aabar Investment PJS.
Former 1MDB chief executive officer Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, 49, said Najib’s presence at the signing of the bilateral agreement on March 12,2013, held at the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya, clearly indicated that the former prime minister had an “interest” and the joint venture was Najib’s “baby”.
“Datuk Seri Najib’s action was according to the plans of the fugitive businessman, Low Taek Jho or Jho Low, as all the planning until the successful signing of the joint venture agreement was organised and planned by him (Jho Low).
“This based on information on a ‘action plan’ and Jho Low's discussions with me and Jasmine Loo (1MDB's lawyer) in making the event a success, ” said the ninth prosecution witness, who was reading from his 270-page witness statement on the 16th day of Najib's trial involving 1MDB funds.
Shahrol, while referring to the document titled “1MDB Media Release - RM18 billion Strategic Partnership for Growth”, also said that the agreement was signed by 1MDB chairman Tan Sri Che Lodin Wok Kamarudin and Aabar chairman Khadem Al Qubaisi.
“The signing ceremony was witnessed by Datuk Seri Najib and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi who was also Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohammed Zayed Al Nahyan, held at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in Putrajaya and handled by officials led by Datuk Azlin Alias (Najib’s principal private secretary).
“I confirm this was Datuk Seri Najib's major mandate to ensure that the joint venture between Abu Dhabi and Malaysia was signed via 1MDB and Aabar Investment PJS, ” he said during examination-in-chief by senior deputy public prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram.
The witness also said that the agreement was a major event between 1MDB and Aabar as it was a “G2G (government-to-government) deal” and involved strategic cooperation between the two countries.
“Datuk Seri Najib’s active involvement in this matter as well as his directives and mandate convinced me to carry out this venture as all the plans were through Jho Low, an important person that Datuk Seri Najib had put in place, to outline his strategies including the joint venture.
“Datuk Seri Najib's action was in line with Jho Low’s plan and followed the pattern of cooperation that he (Najib) had determined, ” he said.
The prosecution's key witness also said it was Jho Low’s idea and plan after an in-depth discussion with Najib, the “ultimate power” in 1MDB, based on Jho Low’s feedback and planning through his private email.
It was clear that it needed to be hastened to ensure the presence of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi as a witness during the signing of the agreement as it was politically important in view of the upcoming 13th General Election (GE13), said the witness, adding that Jho Low himself said that the joint venture would affect the GE13.
Najib, 66, faces four counts of using his position to obtain RM2.3bil in 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same amount of money.
The Pekan MP was charged with four counts of corruption at the AmIslamic Bank Berhad Branch, Jalan Chulan, Bukit Ceylon, here between Feb 24,2011 and Dec 19,2014 while all the money laundering offences were alleged to have been committed between March 22,2013 and Aug 30,2013, at the same place.
The hearing is before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah. – Bernama