I would be digging my own grave, Loo tells court

KUALA LUMPUR: Conspiring against Datuk Seri Najib Razak would mean digging her own grave, former 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) general counsel Jasmine Loo told the High Court.

Denying that she was part of an inner circle that conspired against the former prime minister in the embezzlement of billions from its funds, the 50-year-old key witness said she had not collaborated with former 1MDB CEO Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi.

“I disagree; it was impossible for me to do so; that would be like digging my own grave,” Loo said under re-examination by Deputy Public Prosecutor Deepa Nair Thevaharan yesterday.

Earlier, Loo also admitted to receiving RM100mil from fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho as a gift despite resigning from 1MDB in 2013.

To a question by DPP Deepa in Najib’s RM2.28bil 1MDB trial, Loo admitted she was aware of Low’s habit of name-dropping, but she believed Low when he represented himself as Najib’s spokesperson.

She said that everything that Low, better known as Jho Low, said was substantiated by subsequent events.

“For instance, during a meeting in London in 2011, Jho Low told me that Najib would be there and that we (1MDB management) should prepare the documents for an additional US$1bil loan.

“This is also what Shahrol instructed me to do. Subsequently, that transaction did happen,” she said.

Loo also said Najib had cleared her in 2017 in relation to wrongdoings in 1MDB after she was called to give a statement to Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and the police in 2016.

“Eventually, I only gave a statement to BNM. No action was taken against me by either authority in 2016. I recall seeing a news article where Najib, in a parliamentary reply in his capacity as Finance Minister at that time, said the investigations into me and Casey Tang (another 1MDB executive) had been completed and we had been removed from the BNM watchlist,” she said.

Loo was referring to media reports on March 8, 2017, regarding Najib’s response to a written question by then Kelana Jaya MP Wong Chen.

In his written parliamentary reply, Najib said Loo and Tang had been removed from the central bank’s watchlist following the completion of investigations by the authorities.

Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah objected, saying both Loo and Tang were removed from the BNM watchlist because the central bank had issued a compound against 1MDB.

“The police and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission did not clear her,” he said.

Earlier, Loo admitted receiving RM100mil from Low.

She said she received the money in 2014 but added that it was held in a trust where she ended up as the beneficiary.

Muhammad Shafee: Why did he give RM100mil to someone who had acted as a legal adviser to 1MDB?

Loo: I held the money in a trust.

Muhammad Shafee: Did you end up as the beneficiary?

Loo: Yes, it was a gift.

The witness then said the money was for an investment agreement she had with Low in his company.

She said she had kept US$4.5mil that was deposited by Low in her account for the purchase of a statue meant as a present for Saudi Prince Faisal Turki Al-Saud.

She had kept the money, although the deal for the statue was unsuccessful as Low had “changed his mind”.

Loo disagreed that she kept the money because it was payment for “work” that she had done in 1MDB.

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

The hearing before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah will continue on April 22.

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