KUALA LUMPUR: Fugitive financier Low Taek Jho (pic) brought in several “people around him” into the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), which was later known as 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), the High Court heard.
Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, 49, said this during cross-examination when lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah suggested that Low, or better known as Jho Low, brought in three individuals into TIA.
The three were 1MDB company lawyer Jasmine Loo, director Terrence Geh and executive director Casey Tang.
Shafee: Jho Low put in his people such as Loo, Geh and Tang.
Shahrol: I did not realise the thing was happening.
Shafee: You did not realise that it was Jho Low’s plan to put his people around you?
Shahrol: Yes, now it is quite clear.
Shahrol said in 2009, the year TIA was set up, he had regarded Low as an individual who represented TIA and spoke on behalf of former premier Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who was also the finance minister then.
He told the court that not long after he was appointed as TIA’s CEO, Low and Tang were already in talks with banks regarding government guarantees for the issuance of TIA’s bonds.
Shahrol added that communication between TIA and the state government was only through Low.
TIA was set up as a sovereign wealth fund on Feb 27,2009, and later changed its name to 1MDB on Sept 25 the same year.
The witness also admitted that he had never seen Low’s signature despite Low’s involvement in the sovereign state fund.
Shafee: In all these years that you know Jho Low, you can’t identify his signature?
Shahrol: I haven’t seen documents signed by him.
Shafee: Isn’t that a signal of something disastrous?
The lawyer then repeatedly asked whether the absence of documents signed by Low was alarming, and the witness replied in the negative.
“That I don’t recognise his signature? No that does not alarm me, ” said Shahrol.
Shafee then said it was not the fact Shahrol could not recognise Low’s signature but it was Low never signing any documents.
The witness said this was because Low had no official dealings with 1MDB.
According to Shahrol’s 270-page witness statement, Low had no formal power in the governance of TIA but was still able to influence decisions on an executive level when TIA was established in 2009.
TIA later issued a formal resolution on Low’s appointment on April 8, that same year.
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.