Yes, Najib was Emperor of 1MDB, says witness to incredulous question from defence

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 17 Oct 2019

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was like the "Emperor of 1MDB", the High Court was told on Thursday (Oct 17).

Former 1Malaysia Development Bhd Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi said despite the terms stated in the Companies Act that bound the sovereign wealth fund, in reality, it was Najib who held the ultimate power, giving him a free reign on how to manage 1MDB.

Shahrol, 49, agreed with Najib's lead defence counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah when he suggested that the ninth prosecution witness was trying to say that Najib was like the "Emperor of 1MDB".

Prior to that, the counsel had explained to Shahrol that under Article 117 of 1MDB's Memorandum & Articles of Association (M&A), certain events could not take place without the written approval of the prime minister (PM), but the decision still lay with the board of directors.

He cited some examples ranging from the hiring and termination of senior management and directors, any change to the M&A, and any financial commitment by the company, may not be done without prior written approval from the PM.

Shafee however, argued that the witness had the wrong interpretation of the M&A.

Shafee: I'm putting it to you, this provision (Article 117) is almost like a veto power, for the PM to veto any necessary decision by the company.

Shahrol: My answer is: That is fine in black and white but in practice, it doesn't happen that way. For example, the PetroSaudi International Ltd transaction, if it had been rushed, would we have gone for the transaction? No.

Would we have gone to the Ipic (International Petroleum Investment Corp) bonds at that speed? No. In working closely with the PM, we had to follow according to his wishes.

Shafee: I’m putting it to you, it is still a wrong interpretation. You have just made the PM the emperor of 1MDB. There was no check and balance.

Shahrol: At Phase 1,2 and 3 (of his witness statement), I would say yes.

Shafee: So he was the emperor of 1MDB?

Shahrol, however said, as directors, they were duty-bound to execute Najib's wishes.

"So that’s what happened. Whether it was in compliance with the rules, it was fair that you raised (about the law provision of Article 117), but this is what happened.

"From 2009 until 2013 when I left as CEO, I continued to see Datuk Seri Najib as the ultimate power in 1MDB." said Shahrol.

The witness however refused to comment on the counsel's question on whether he agreed that the board must make the decision first and on how Najib's position as the 1MDB's Chairman of Board of Advisers power interfaced with BOD.

Najib, 66, faces four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion from 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.

Hearing before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues on Monday. – Bernama

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