Shafee crosses swords with witness over claim that 1MDB 'benefited' Umno

KUALA LUMPUR: A former 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) CEO told the High Court here that he still believes Umno benefited from the sovereign wealth fund despite the absence of evidence.

Prosecution witness Mohd Hazem Abd Rahman, 47, testified that it was a matter of whether "to follow along or not" when it came to servicing Umno in 1MDB.

This prompted lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, representing former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, to remark that Hazem was the first witness to tell the court that 1MDB was set up for Umno.

Shafee said the previous 1MDB CEO who testified - Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi - had never said 1MDB was for Umno.

Hazem reiterated that he believed this because he was told as much by fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, in a meeting where Najib's late principal private secretary Datuk Azlin Alias was present.

Shafee: Now you know benefiting Umno like that is criminal?

Hazem: Yes.

Shafee: Throughout your two and a half years as CEO, did you see any evidence of benefit being sent to Umno?

Hazem: No.

Shafee: Did you see any benefit or money being sent to Najib?

Hazem: No.

The lawyer also suggested that Hazem should have reached out to Najib if he found something troubling within 1MDB.

"But I did not have direct access to him. My avenue of access was through Azlin and (then 1MDB chairman) Tan Sri Lodin Wok Kamaruddin," Hazem said during cross-examination here on Monday (Feb 15).

He admitted, however, that he did not make an effort to see Najib.

Shafee suggested that Hazem was not being honest when the witness claimed he was too terrified of Najib and tolerated the goings-on in 1MDB.

"That is my opinion then," replied the witness.

Shafee pressed further and said that the only way Hazem had tolerated two and a half years in 1MDB's "criminal activity" was because he was a part of it.

Shafee: If you are part of it, you can tolerate it.

Hazem: I disagree.

Shafee then asked Hazem about the bonus he received from 1MDB upon his resignation from the company.

Shafee: How much was it?

Hazem: The gross amount was probably more than RM2mil.

Shafee: It was RM2.7mil.

The witness agreed.

Najib, 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 on Tuesday (Feb 16).

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1MDB , Najib Razak , Mohd Hazem , Umno , court , crime


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