KUALA LUMPUR: A series of articles on the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal from a news portal had prompted its then CEO to confront fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, over the ownership of Good Star Ltd, a company linked to 1MDB’s joint venture partner PetroSaudi International Ltd (PSI).
Key witness Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, 49, told the High Court on Thursday (Nov 7) that he messaged Jho Low to ask about the matter.
“Jho insisted Good Star is owned by PSI,” he said during cross-examination by lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah here on Thursday (Nov 7).
Shafee: That was what Jho claimed?
Shahrol: Yes. He said he will ask them (PSI) to write to me.
When asked whether he had used his BlackBerry for the correspondence, Shahrol said he could not remember which medium was used for the messaging but said he was not using a BlackBerry at that time.
Shafee then pressed the witness about the articles.
Shafee: So this came from a series of articles in The Edge alone?
Shahrol: If I recall, (articles from) The Edge was the one that triggered me to contact Jho. I cannot remember exactly which article.
Shafee: If I produce it here in court, would you be able to remember?
Shahrol: Yes, I might.
Shafee: What was the nature of allegation in the article?
Shahrol: That Good Star was owned by Jho. I asked Jho to explain. He said that Good Star is a PSI company and he will get PSI to confirm in writing.
Shafee: Now that we know that is not true.
Shafee: But he somehow or rather got PSI to write you this letter (referring the witness to a document).
Shafee then read the content of the document, which was a letter from PSI to Shahrol.
The letter read: "On behalf of PetroSaudi International Ltd and the rest of the PetroSaudi Group, I confirm that all wire transfer from 1Malaysia Development Bhd and its affiliated group, 1MDB Group, have all been received by PetroSaudi. In addition, I wish to confirm from Sept 1,2009, Good Star Ltd's sole shares was held by PetroSaudi Group and this position remains unchanged."
However, it was not established in court who had signed the letter.
Shafee: It was a very calculated, limited answer.
Shahrol: At that time, I didn’t realise.
Shafee: Do you realise now it was a very calculated, limited answer?
Shafee: ... to maintain, how shall I say, it was clinically correct but morally wrong.
Shahrol: If you say so.
The court had previously heard testimony that Good Star was initially represented as a PSI subsidiary but documents tendered in court had shown that Jho Low was its sole beneficiary owner.
Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, 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.
The hearing before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes next Monday (Nov 11).