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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

NAJIB 1MDB TRIAL - Day 18: I've never seen Jho Low sign any documents - Shahrol


The criminal trial of former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak involving the alleged abuse of power and money laundering of 1MDB funds enters its 18th day today at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysiakini brings you live reports of the proceedings.

Summary of Najib’s 1MDB ‘donation’ case

Najib is facing 25 charges of receiving RM2.28 billion, which originated from 1MDB through Tanore Finance Corp, a company owned by Eric Tan, a close associate of fugitive businessperson Jho Low.

KEY HIGHLIGHTS
  • I've never seen Jho Low sign any documents - Shahrol
  • 'Never knew secondary subscriber of bonds was Jho Low's company'
  • No idea where you're heading - witness tells Shafee
  • Gov't acted responsibly in granting guarantee to TIA: ex-CEO
  • Records don't show Najib benefited from RM5b bond issuance - Shahrol
  • I would appoint Shafee as lawyer if I set up a company, quips witness
  • Jho Low 'very particular' on using expensive paper for letter to Najib
  • Witness: Jho Low spoke about political tussle between T'ganu, gov't
  • 'Jho Low may have chosen me due to my inexperience in finances'
  • No opportunity to tell former Agong I was not qualified - Shahrol
  • Further grilling of Shahrol promises gripping testimony

Thank you for following Malaysiakini's live report
Thank you for following our live report today.

4.38pm - Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah allows proceedings to adjourn for the day, and to resume tomorrow morning.

I've never seen Jho Low sign any documents - Shahrol
4.25pm - Former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi has never seen Jho Low (below) sign documents before him in all the years they knew each other, the court hears.
This is revealed by the 9th witness during cross-examination by lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
Shafee is asking Shahrol about a signature on a document linked to Low being the beneficial owner of the company Good Star Limited.
Shafee: Whose signature is that?
Shahrol: I do not know.
Shafee: In all the years you knew Low, you cannot identify his signature. Why?
Shahrol: Because I never saw any documents signed by him (Low).

'Never knew secondary subscriber of bonds was Jho Low's company'
4.10pm - Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi testifies that he never knew that it was Jho Low's company that became a secondary subscriber of 1MDB bonds in 2009.
The former 1MDB CEO says he only knew about this from the media and when he was questioned by police last year.
Shahrol testifies that he was asked by police investigators if he knew about a company called Aktis Singapore Pvt Ltd, before subsequently being told that its beneficiary was Low.
According to defence lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah's cross-examination on Shahrol, Aktis Singapore had entered into an agreement with Ambank to be the secondary subscriber of 1MDB Islamic medium-term notes on May 18, 2009.
The company subscribed to a total of RM700 million nominal value of 1MDB bonds through the bank.
It had earlier been established that Ambank Group through its AmInvestment Bank was the primary subscriber of 1MDB's bonds for up to RM5 billion nominal value.
Shahrol agrees that it came as a shock to him when he learnt that Low's company had subscribed to the bonds.
He also agrees to a suggestion by Shafee that Ambank should have known that the company was linked to Low.
Shafee: Low is a secondary subscriber. That came to you as a shock?
Shahrol: Yes.
Shafee: Without TIA knowledge, he was making a lot of money under the nose of TIA.
Shahrol: Under the nose of Ambank actually.
Shafee: Not Ambank. Ambank knew this. Without TIA knowledge.
Shahrol: Oh yes.
Shafee: Ambank conspired basically with Low. Without TIA knowing.
Shahrol: Correct.

No idea where you're heading - witness tells Shafee
3.49pm - Former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi's remark on not knowing where lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah's cross-examination is heading elicits laughter in the, mostly serious, proceedings.
The 9th witness' humourous remark comes on the heels of Shafee having questioned the witness on various procedural aspects of Terengganu Investment Authority's (TIA) bid on the RM5 billion bond issuance.
Shafee assures Shahrol that it is hoped the witness would bear with the questioning as the defence has a direction it is heading to.
"Actually, I have no idea where you are going," Shahrol replies, causing chuckles from those present in court.

Gov't acted responsibly in granting guarantee to TIA: ex-CEO
3.20pm - A former CEO of 1MDB agrees that the federal government had acted responsibly in giving its guarantee to Terengganu Investment Authority's (TIA) RM5 billion bonds in 2009.
For the record, TIA, the precursor of 1MDB, was initially owned by the state of Terengganu before it was taken over by the Minister of Finance Incorporated.
Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi testifies this based on a letter which showed the state government agreeing to a series of conditions required by the federal government for the latter to gives its guarantee.
Among the conditions agreed between the state and federal governments were that TIA cannot pass a resolution for its own winding up.
The state government has to ensure that TIA is in financial condition that would not jeopardise its obligations under the Islamic medium-term notes; and for the state to inform the federal government any situation deemed to be prejudicial to TIA.
Shafee: You will notice from these conditions, the federal government acted very responsibly. They say if you want a guarantee, you provide these considerations.
Shahrol: Yes.
Shafee: That was locked in between the federal government and state.
Shahrol: Correct.

Court resumes after lunch break
3.07pm - Proceedings resume after the lunch break, with former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi seen in the witness stand ready to resume cross-examination by lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

12.41pm - The court breaks early for lunch, and will resume at 2.30pm.

Records don't show Najib benefited from RM5b bond issuance - Shahrol
12.13pm - Former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi agrees with the defence that records did not show then finance minister Najib Abdul Razak benefited from the greenlight on government guarantee for Terengganu Investment Authority's RM5 billion bond issuance.
The 9th witness agrees with lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah during cross-examination over the Finance Ministry memorandum recommending government guarantee for the bond issuance in 2009.
Shafee is showing Shahrol the memorandum which was presented and agreed to in a cabinet meeting in 2009.
The cabinet was headed by then prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Shafee: There is no personal benefit to Najib as finance minister to do the memorandum for the cabinet?
Shahrol: Based on records.

I would appoint Shafee as lawyer if I set up a company, quips witness  
11.50am - The court hears that 1MDB board of directors never had a lawyer on board after the one tasked for its setup left in 2009.
Former CEO of the company, Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, testifies that most of 1MDB board members came from an accounting background.
He says the only lawyer the board had was Christopher Lee, who was 1MDB's promoter director.
According to Shahrol, Lee was only onboard for the setup of 1MDB until it got the "real" directors to come in.
The lawyer officially resigned as a 1MDB director on March 23, 2009, which was the same day that Shahrol and Ismee Ismail were appointed to the board.
Shahrol says they never had a lawyer on board since.
Lead defence counsel then toys with a suggestion to Shahrol that it was a bad idea for 1MDB not to have a lawyer on board.
To this, Shahrol quips that he would take Shafee (above) if he were to set up another company.
"Next company we set up we would appoint you," he jokes.

Jho Low 'very particular' on using expensive paper for letter to Najib
10.40am - Wanted businessperson Jho Low was very particular on using expensive Conqueror paper for a letter to then finance minister Najib Abdul Razak in 2009, the court hears.
Former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi confirms this during cross-examination by lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
Shafee is referring to a letter from the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) to Najib dated March 27, 2009, to obtain approval for a guarantee for the TIA issuance of RM5 billion in bonds.
"He (Low) was very particular on using Conqueror paper... expensive stuff," Shahrol says.

Witness: Jho Low spoke about political tussle between T'ganu, gov't
10am - Jho Low claimed that a representative of Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin had raised an issue about his involvement with Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) in 2009 due to a political tussle between the Terengganu state and the federal government, a witness tells the court.
Former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi says this was the reason given by Low when asked about the matter.
"It was explained by Low as a political fight between state and federal," Shahrol testifies under cross-examination by lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
During the earlier part of his testimony, Shahrol had testified that the representative of the Terengganu ruler, who was also the Yang di-Pertuan Agong then, had queried Low's role in TIA during the company's meeting in June 2009.
For the record, TIA was the precursor of 1MDB.

'Jho Low may have chosen me due to my inexperience in finances'
10am - The court hears from Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi that he might have been chosen by Jho Low to be 1MDB CEO due to his lack of experience in financial matters.
Shahrol, who became the first 1MDB CEO and served from 2009 to 2013, says that he now sees that this could be a possibility given the hindsight of the situation.
He testifies this under cross-examination by lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
Shafee: Now that you took some time to explain to us that you have no experience in financial matters and that you have told this to Low, I want to ask you a very honest question. Do you think that was the reason why Low appointed you, so he could take you by the ear?
Shahrol: At the time, I didn't think so.
Shafee: (How about) now with the hindsight?
Shahrol: There is a possibility.
Earlier in his testimony, Shahrol tells the court that he had made it clear to Low that he had no experience in fundraising when the former offered him the post.
However, according to Shahrol, he did not manage to inform this to the Terengganu ruler Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, who was then the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, when Low took him to meet with the sultan prior to Shahrol's appointment as 1MDB CEO in 2009.

No opportunity to tell former Agong I was not qualified - Shahrol
9.50am - Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi testifies that he had no opportunity to tell then Agong Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin (photo) that he was not qualified to be CEO of Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), the predecessor to 1MDB.
The 9th witness tells lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah that his appointment was decided by people above him, namely the TIA board and stakeholders being the federal and state governments.
Shahrol says he already much earlier informed wanted financier Jho Low that he did not have experience in fundraising before he was brought before the Agong in 2009.
Before that, Shahrol was the managing director of Accenture.
"I was called to the Istana, I sat down, was introduced to the Duli Yang Maha Mulia (Agong) and given the offer.
"If I was not qualified for certain aspects, it was the people who appoint me that should have known that," Shahrol says.
"I had zero opportunity (to tell Agong he had no experience). Tuanku was in a meeting when I was brought in (to the Istana) by Low.
"Azlan (Zainol of TIA and later 1MDB director) was already there. I was introduced to Tuanku, Azlan said a few words," Shahrol adds.

9.38am - Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak enters the dock as proceedings begin with the resumption of lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah's cross-examination of 9th witness, former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi.

Further grilling of Shahrol promises gripping testimony
Today's cross-examination of former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi by Najib Abdul Razak's lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah promises more gripping testimony in the former prime minister's RM2.28 billion 1MDB trial.
As hearing before Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah enters the 18th day this morning, veteran lawyer Shafee is expected to methodically question key witness Shahrol over every part of his testimony which was delivered over the course of six days of examination-in-chief conducted by lead deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Gopal Sri Ram.
Yesterday's grilling of 9th witness Shahrol by Shafee had produced a multitude of oral evidence, such as that Jho Low kept a low profile over his involvement in 1MDB in order to avoid triggering jealousy among Umno members against the controversial businessperson's influence and access to then-premier and party president, Najib.
Shahrol also testified, among others, that the failure of 1MDB's initial public offering in 2015 was caused by negative media attention raised by the then opposition, and that the idea for the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund's predecessor Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) was first mooted in Abu Dhabi when Low brought then Agong Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin there to look at the United Arab Emirate's sovereign wealth fund, Mubadala Development Company.    - Mkini

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