Loo says Jho Low went from friend to foe

Spilling the beans: Najib arriving at the court for his RM2.28bil 1MDB corruption trial. Key witness Jasmine Loo was cross-examined by Najib’s lawyer Muhammad Shafee yesterday. — Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: They used to be good friends, even going for holidays abroad together, but things turned ugly for Jasmine Loo as she claimed to have been threatened by Low Taek Jho during her isolation in Bangkok, the High Court has heard.

The former 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) general counsel also told the High Court that she had yet to lodge a police report over the threats from the fugitive businessman. Better known as Jho Low, the man is central to the 1MDB scandal.

The 50th prosecution witness, who became a fugitive for five years, had previously testified that she feared for her life and stayed put in Bangkok, Thailand on Low’s instructions.

“As I said before, I felt I was under threat and I was being monitored closely on any move that I made.

“I didn’t want to endanger myself by making any moves contrary to whatever Low instructed, which was to stay put,” she said.

Loo was being cross-examined by lead defence counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah in Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s RM2.28bil 1MDB corruption trial here yesterday.

Muhammad Shafee asked the witness whether she had lodged a police report after her return to Malaysia in July last year.

“Not yet, I will take advice (from my legal counsel),” Loo replied.

The witness also admitted that Low had gifted her with items from luxury brands including an Hermes handbag and a Richard Mille watch.

The gifts, she said, have been surrendered to the government.

Loo agreed to Muhammad Shafee’s suggestion that she had spent time with Low in many instances, such as going for a holiday in Las Vegas, gambling, watching a quarterfinal match at the 2014 World Cup in Rio, Brazil, and partying with celebrities including Adriana Lima and Leonardo DiCaprio, where all the activities were paid for by Low.

Loo said the activities were “normal things to do between close friends.”

“He’s (Low) a very soft-spoken person so he didn’t really use harsh words until 2015, 2016; that was when he began to seem a little bit more irritated,” she said.

Muhammad Shafee suggested that Low became an irritable person due to the 1MDB scandal being revealed to the public. Loo agreed.

Earlier, the witness also told the court that Najib’s approval was required before any move was made in 1MDB as he held three significant positions including one within the company.

Najib was then the prime minister, finance minister and chairman of the board of advisers at 1MDB.

“It was a practice in 1MDB for everything to be referred to Najib first. In substance, it was... one individual who makes all these decisions,” said Loo.

Muhammad Shafee, however, said that Loo, as the company’s general counsel, should have known that Najib could not come to a decision regarding the company without first referring it to the board of directors.

“Instead, you purposely ignored this because you were a part of a conspiracy to hoodwink 1MDB,” Muhammad Shafee said.

Loo disagreed with the suggestion.

Najib, 70, is on trial for 25 charges in total – four for abuse of power that allegedly brought him the financial benefit to the tune of RM2.28bil; and 21 for money laundering involving the same amount of money.

The trial before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues on March 14.

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