Najib did not like 'MIB' acronym, resulting in change of state fund's name, court told

KUALA LUMPUR: Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak did not quite like the acronym "MIB", which stood for Malaysian Investment Bhd, resulting to a state fund's name changed to "1MDB" for 1Malaysia Development Bhd, months after its inception as Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) in 2009.

Former 1MDB CEO Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, 49, told this to the High Court when he was referred to TIA meeting minutes dated Aug 12,2009.

The meeting was chaired by Treasury deputy secretary-general (policy) Datuk Latifah Abu Mansor and involved the takeover of TIA - which started as a state fund - by the Federal Government.

During a cross-examination by lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Shahrol said he attended the meeting with former 1MDB executive director Casey Tang.

He said prior to the name change, fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, or better known as Jho Low, had suggested to the 1MDB board of directors to follow the Mubadala Group of Abu Dhabi template as close as possible.

"We explored a few alternatives, and that was how we came up with the name 'MDB', as it was pretty close to Mubadala," he said here on Thursday (Oct 10).

Shafee then asked if Najib had an opinion on the change of name and the witness said the former premier was interested in the details, but this was solely based on what Low had told him about Najib.

"I was instructed to formalise this and in order to do that, I need to write a letter, put it in black and white to get it done," he said.

Shafee then referred the witness to a document and Shahrol confirmed it was the resolution to change TIA's name.

Shafee: So the name is now changed to 1MDB?

Shahrol: Yes.

Shafee: As of what date?

Shahrol: It was passed at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) held on Sept 4,2009.

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 if found guilty.

The hearing continues before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah on Monday (Oct 14).

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