‘Jho Low was seen as Najib’s proxy’

In the dock: Najib faces charges over obtaining bribes from 1MDB funds and money laundering.

KUALA LUMPUR: Fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low wanted the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) management to see him as Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s proxy and often used his influence as someone close to the former prime minister.

1MDB’s former counsel Jasmine Loo Ai Swan, 50, said most matters requiring the prime minister’s approval had to be discussed with Jho Low first before being brought to Najib, who was then the chairman of the 1MDB Board of Advisors.

“Normally, obtaining signatures of all parties is the responsibility of the company secretary and the chief executive officer. However, for documents related to 1MDB investments, I would prepare them and hand them over to Jho Low to obtain Datuk Seri Najib’s signature,” she told the High Court here.

“Jho Low would ask me to prepare documents that required Datuk Seri Najib’s signature. After I handed over these documents, I do not know how Jho Low obtained the signature.”

She said she only met Najib at events or 1MDB meetings with the management team, never in a private or one-to-one meeting over any company- related matters.

The 50th prosecution witness was reading her 63-page witness statement during the examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor Deepa Nair Thevaharan in Najib’s corruption and money laundering trial involving RM2.3bil of 1MDB funds.

Earlier, Loo said that when the management needed to sign any director’s circular resolution, they would be given documents which had been signed by Najib regarding any investment and financial decisions of 1MDB.

“The Board of Directors would agree with Datuk Seri Najib’s decisions because 1MDB was managed in a top-down approach,” she said, according to Bernama.

Loo said it was also because Najib was the sole shareholder representative of 1MDB. In the case of 1MDB, the shareholder was the Ministry of Finance Incorporated, represented by Najib as the Finance Minister.

Loo said she had once worked at UBG Berhad, a company owned by Jho Low, with a monthly salary of about RM45,000, including vehicle allowance, fuel allowance and travel allowance, from Jan 1, 2009, until April 2011.

She said she first met the fugitive businessman when attending a job interview with the company in 2008.

Describing her involvement in 1MDB, Loo said that in early 2011, 1MDB CEO Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi offered her the opportunity to join 1MDB as a lawyer, but she did not give any response at that time.

“Shahrol Azral frequently contacted me after that, and Jho Low also told me that if I were to join 1MDB, he (Jho Low) had no objections but he did not force me to join the company,” she said, adding that she began working at 1MDB from May 2011 until November 2013.

She said she had met Shahrol Azral when UBG Berhad undertook a project with Accenture Consulting in early 2009.

“Shahrol Azral was a partner managing the project. After he left Accenture Consulting, he often came to the UBG Berhad office to attend meetings with Jho Low, representatives from Goldman Sachs, and the team that founded the Terengganu Investment Authority Berhad (TIA), which was later renamed 1MDB,” she said.

Najib, 70, faces four charges of using his position (as prime minister) to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3bil from 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.

The trial before Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues tomorrow.

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