Witness: Low had power to choose 1MDB CEO

KUALA LUMPUR: Fugitive financier Low Taek Jho did not have a formal position in 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), but he was “the man of the company” who could have chosen the next CEO, the High Court heard.

Prosecution witness Mohd Hazem Abd Rahman, 47, who was 1MDB CEO between 2013 and 2015, testified that Low, better known as Jho Low, had the authority to determine who would be the next CEO.

He was under cross-examination by defence counsel Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed in the 1MDB trial here yesterday.

Wan Aizuddin was referring the witness to an email he sent to his former colleague, 1MDB chief financial officer Azmi Tahir, where Hazem said he could recommend Azmi’s name to Low if Azmi was interested to rise to the position.

Wan Aizuddin: You said if Azmi is interested in the job, you will recommend his name to Jho Low. Did you do this in the end?

Hazem: I didn’t.

Wan Aizuddin: So are you saying that Jho Low is in the position to decide who can be the next CEO?

Hazem: Yes.

The witness described Low as “the man” of the company and it was the culture to keep Low informed of 1MDB happenings.

To another question, Hazem said Low’s name was concealed from official meetings as this was the way it should be.

“Low told me this in our meeting in Putrajaya when I was being offered the COO (chief operating officer) position in 2012.

“This is the culture that has been practised. Everyone is aware and understood that on record, his name was never to be mentioned. It was well understood, ” Hazem said.

Wan Aizuddin: When Jho Low mentioned to you ‘don’t mention my name’, did you question him back? That this is not right, that you are not a puppet?

Hazem: This is the instruction. This is a company on top of the Prime Minister’s Office.

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, 68, is facing four charges of abusing his position to obtain gratification totalling RM2.28bil in 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same money.

The hearing before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues today.

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