‘Jho Low received US$1bil’

  • Nation
  • Friday, 08 Nov 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court was told that 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) had transferred money into the bank account of Good Star Ltd, which belongs to fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, when the money was intended for PetroSaudi International Ltd (PSI) on paper.

Former 1MDB chief executive officer Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, 49, was questioned on the transfer of US$330mil (RM1.3bil) from 1MDB to an account in 2011.

It was said during cross-examination that the bank had queried 1MDB because the account number in the transaction did not match the name of the beneficiary on paper, which was PSI.

The witness said the bank account number, which turned out to be Good Star’s, was provided by PSI CEO Tarek Obaid.

Lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah then said this was the second time the “mistake” happened, with the first being in 2009 when 1MDB transferred US$700mil (RM2.89bil) to the same account belonging to Good Star.

Shafee: You are sending a lot of money from 1MDB. Not a small amount. We are now no longer in the bracket of millions, we are in the bracket of billions.

Shahrol: Correct.

Shafee: Not determining who is Good Star is negligence.

Shahrol: I disagree.

Shafee: Would you agree, can I suggest a softer word, there is no due diligence on your part?

Shahrol: Disagree.

The court also heard that Shahrol had messaged Low to ask about the ownership of Good Star after reading a series of articles on the 1MDB scandal on a news portal.

“Jho insisted that Good Star is owned by PSI, ” he said.

Shafee: That was what Jho claimed?

Shahrol: Yes. He said he would ask them (PSI) to write to me.

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, (article 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 the allegation in the article?

Shahrol: That Good Star was owned by Jho. I asked Jho to explain. He said that Good Star was a PSI company and he would get PSI to write to me to confirm.

Shafee: Now we know that is not true.

Shahrol: Yes.

Shafee: But he somehow or rather got PSI to write you this letter (referring the witness to a document).

Shahrol: Yes.

Shafee then read the contents 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 sole shares were 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?

Shahrol: Yes.

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 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 on Monday.

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