Ex-1MDB CEO admits signing US$1bil agreement for PetroSaudi Cayman instead of PetroSaudi International

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court was told that 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) signed a joint venture (JV) agreement with PetroSaudi Holdings (Cayman) Ltd and not PetroSaudi International (PSI), which it had been in talks with.

Former 1MDB chief executive officer Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, 49, said he signed the document in 2009 despite the different name.

1MDB invested US$1bil into the JV.

Lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah pointed out that 'PetroSaudi Holdings Cayman' was different from 'PetroSaudi International' where the latter clearly did not mention the word 'Cayman' at all.

"At that time, (1MDB executive director) Casey Tang explained that PetroSaudi Holdings (Cayman) was a wholly owned subsidiary of PetroSaudi International," Shahrol said during cross-examination in the 1MDB trial here on Wednesday (Oct 16).

Shafee: I'm relying on you. Forget about Tang. You were the CEO. You take the shot first. How did you explain to the board about this?

Shahrol: The same way I explain to the court now. Tang was in charge in ensuring everything was in order. He indicated that there is nothing wrong with this.

The lawyer then questioned Shahrol why he did not seek an opinion from Wong & Partners, the law firm that represented 1MDB in the transaction.

Shahrol replied that he did not do as such as Tang was already working on the transaction.

Shafee: You are putting your US$1bil-signature on this agreement. I would be terrified if I was in your position. Didn't you ask for further clarification?

Shahrol: I didn't.

Shafee: In hindsight, you agree this is a silly decision on your part?

Shahrol: In hindsight, could I have done it differently? I could not have done it differently. I relied on Tang.

However, the witness agreed that he could have gotten Wong & Partners to write to him to confirm the company.

Shafee: If you had done that you wouldn't be under suspicion.

Shahrol: Correct.

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 before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues tomorrow (OCT 17

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