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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

NAJIB 1MDB TRIAL - Day 26: 'Jho Low was in a way facilitating the misappropriation from 1MDB'



The criminal trial of former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak involving the alleged abuse of power and money laundering of 1MDB funds enters its 26th 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
  • 'Jho Low was in a way facilitating the misappropriation from 1MDB'
  • Petrosaudi unhappy with 1MDB seeking independent asset valuation
  • 1MDB legal adviser had no knowledge of PSI assets, payment to Good Star
  • Shafee questions Shahrol on his fiduciary duty to Najib
  • Shahrol: Najib advised second valuation of PSI assets not needed
  • 1MDB board lacked confidence in valuation of joint-venture assets
  • Casey Tang signed fraudulent loan agreement between 1MDB, Good Star
  • Shahrol: I would resign on the spot if I knew of Jho Low's untruthfulness
  • Shahrol open to the possibility Najib was misled by Jho Low
  • Ex-1MDB CEO says he didn't fully read US DOJ report on 1MDB
  • 1MDB deposits US$700m into Jho Low's Gold Star instead of Petrosaudi
  • 1MDB board unaware US$1b split payment meant for JV company

Thank you for following Malaysiakini's live report
4.45pm - Thank you for following our live report today.

Proceedings to start later at 11am tomorrow
4.40pm - Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak's RM2.28 billion 1MDB trial will start later at 11am tomorrow rather than the customary 9.30am.
The accused's lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah informs the High Court that he has a matter at the Federal Court that he needs to attend to first tomorrow morning before he could come to the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex.
Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah allows Shafee's application for proceedings to begin at 11am tomorrow.
The judge also adjourns proceedings for today.

'Jho Low was in a way facilitating the misappropriation from 1MDB'
4.21pm - 1MDB-linked fugitive financier Jho Low is likened to a fox taking care of a chicken, according to lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
Najib Abdul Razak's lawyer makes this description during cross-examination of former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi.
Shafee makes this comparison when Shahrol testifies that he went back and fourth between then 1MDB board of advisors chairperson Najib, Jho Low, and the sovereign wealth fund's board of directors.
Shahrol testifies that after a meeting with Najib as the 1MDB board of advisor chairperson on Oct 16, 2009, he went to meet Jho Low, then obtained the purported minutes of Shahrol-Najib meeting and went back to the 1MDB board of directors.
On hearing this, Shafee exclaims that it is akin to asking a fox to take care of a chicken.

Shafee: Am I wrong that Jho Low (photo) was the fox taking care of the chicken?
Shahrol: I saw him (Jho Low) as a facilitator for Najib. Now, it seems that he (Jho Low) was in a way facilitating the misappropriation from 1MDB.
I think it is worth knowing that in 2010, Good Star Limited (allegedly owned by Jho Low) sent money to Red Granite (a film company linked to Najib's stepson Riza Aziz).
Shafee: Why did you go to Red Granite? Concentrate on what you did or did not (answer to specific questions during cross-examination).

Petrosaudi unhappy with 1MDB seeking independent asset valuation
4.05pm - Petrosaudi was not happy with 1MDB's plan to seek an independent valuation on assets that it had purportedly injected into their joint-venture company, testifies Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi.
The witness says Petrosaudi had stated it was not happy with "the level of trust" in the joint venture.
Shahrol says that while he did not suspect anything then, he now believes that the suspicion raised by 1MDB board of directors on Petrosaudi assets value was a justified concern.
1MDB legal adviser had no knowledge of PSI assets, payment to Good Star
3.40pm - The court hears that in 2009, 1MDB's legal representative Brian Chia was misled to believe that a valuer firm appointed by Petrosaudi Holdings (Cayman) Ltd was an independent valuer.
Former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi says this during cross-examination by the defence over a memorandum that was prepared by Chia, which stated that Edward Morse was an independent entity in the valuation process.
Shahrol also agrees to a suggestion by lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah that the memorandum showed that Chia had no fundamental knowledge on the matter.
When Shafee asks him who had presented such information to the lawyer, Shahrol says that he believed that it could be the then 1MDB executive director Casey Tang.
Shafee: So in short, this nice memo by brian chia was made without having fundamental knowledge about the assets of PSI. And secondly, he doesn't have the fundamental knowledge that the US$700 million had gone to Good Star
Shahrol: Yes.

Shafee questions Shahrol on his fiduciary duty to Najib
3.18pm - Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi testifies that he owed then prime minister Najib Abdul Razak a fiduciary duty tied to the sovereign wealth fund.
This causes lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah to demand whether the former 1MDB CEO has documentary proof of this, to which Shahrol admits he does not have.
Shafee: You agree as senior management member (of 1MDB), you have a fiduciary duty to the company (1MDB)?
Shahrol: Yes.
Shafee: You do not owe a fiduciary duty to Najib as then 1MDB board of advisor chairperson and prime minister?
Shahrol: That was not what happened.
Shafee: I do not care what happened. I ask you if you have a fiduciary duty to the prime minister (Najib)?
Shahrol: I do.
Shafee: Show me the authority (documentary evidence)?
Shahrol: I do not have any. (I refer to) the (1MDB) Articles of Association, the appointment to senior management (as CEO), that was done by the prime minister.

Shahrol: Najib advised second valuation of PSI assets not needed
3.10pm - Former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi testifies that in Oct 2009, former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak advised the sovereign wealth fund's board of directors that there was no need for them to seek a second valuation of Petrosaudi Holdings (Cayman) Ltd assets in Turkmenistan and Argentina.
Najib was the chairperson of 1MDB board of advisers then.
Shahrol said he had gone to meet Najib on Oct 16, 2009, to seek his advice on behalf of the board of directors.
This followed concerns by members of the boards over the value of Petrosaudi (Cayman) assets, valued by valuer Edward Morse, was not as much as claimed.
The assets, valued at US$2.2 billion, were what Petrosaudi (cayman) had purportedly injected in its joint-venture vehicle with 1MDB.
Under cross-examination by lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Shahrol agrees that Najib had not used words that prevented 1MDB from going forward with their plan to seek second valuation.
He agrees to the suggestion by Shafee that Najib was only giving his advice.
However, Shahrol testifies that at that point in time, he believed that Najib did not want them to do the second valuation.
Shafee: [...] I put it to you, the chairperson of board of advisers (Najib) had never told you not to take second valuation. He only expressed his opinion
Shahrol: I disagree, that's not what i thought

1MDB board lacked confidence in valuation of joint-venture assets
2.50pm - The board members of 1MDB had expressed a lack of confidence in the valuation of assets tied to its joint-venture with Petrosaudi International, the sovereign wealth fund's former CEO testifies.

Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi agrees with the assertion of lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah (photo), who is referring to the Oct 3, 2009, 1MDB board meeting minutes.
The meeting took place after the signing of the 1MDB-Petrosaudi joint venture agreement in September that year.
Court resumes proceedings
2.48pm - Proceedings resume.
12.54pm - Court adjourns for lunch break.

Casey Tang signed fraudulent loan agreement between 1MDB, Good Star
12.37pm - 1MDB and Jho Low's company Good Star Ltd had purportedly entered into a loan agreement in Jan 2010, the court hears.
A document tendered as evidence in the trial showed that then 1MDB executive director Casey Tang had signed the paper where 1MDB purportedly agreed to loan Good Star US$700 million.
However, this is established in court as being a fraudulent document as former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi testifies that they had never had any dealings with Good Star.
"It's a fraud. We never entered any transactions with Good star," the witness says.
Shahrol says the signing of the document by Casey Tang was also done without his knowledge as the then CEO, and the knowledge of 1MDB's board of directors.
Under cross-examination by the defence, Shahrol says that if he were to guess, the purported loan agreement could have been a fraudulent attempt by Jho Low and his associates to convince banks that Good Star had acquired the money legally.

Shahrol: I would resign on the spot if I knew of Jho Low's untruthfulness
12.25pm - Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi declares during cross-examination that he will resign on the spot if given a second chance to be 1MDB CEO and confronted again by the numerous alleged untruthfulness from Jho Low and former 1MDB chief financial officer Casey Tang.
The ninth prosecution witness admits that he does not know how much that Jho Low and Tang told him in the course of the 1MDB-Petrosaudi venture was the truth, such as the alleged diversion of US$700 million of money meant for the joint venture.
Shafee: If given the chance to be CEO again (of 1MDB), would you check on them?
Shahrol: I would have resigned on the spot.
The former 1MDB CEO maintains that until today he still believes that 1MDB is a strategic vehicle for then premier Najib Abdul Razak.

Shahrol open to the possibility Najib was misled by Jho Low
12.20pm - Ex-1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi admits to the possibility that then prime minister Najib Abdul Razak could have been misled by wanted businessperson Jho Low.
Shafee: If the professional CEO of 1MDB can be misled, you agree there is the possibility that Jho Low misled Najib?
Shahrol: There is a possibility.

Ex-1MDB CEO says he didn't fully read US DOJ report on 1MDB
12.04pm - Former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi tells the court that he only "scanned through" report on 1MDB by the US Department of Justice.
He claims that the report had turned him off when DOJ accused him of being complicit in the US$700 million transfer of 1MDB funds into Jho Low's Good Star in 2009.
Shahrol claims that the DOJ also did not have the complete information, and nobody from the department had came to ask him.
During the cross-examination by lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, the court also hears from Shahrol that he was described in the DOJ report as 1MDB Offical Number 2.
He says former 1MDB executive director Casey Tang, meanwhile, was 1MDB Official Number 1 in the report.

1MDB deposits US$700m into Jho Low's Gold Star instead of Petrosaudi
12pm - The US$700 million which 1MDB was supposed to pay as its share of the US$1 billion joint-venture with Petrosaudi was deposited into Jho Low's company Good Star, former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi tells the court.

During cross-examination by the defence, Shahrol (photo) claims at the time the money was transferred in 2009, he did not know that Good Star was owned by Low.
He says that the money was transferred into RBS Coutts Bank account number 11116073 (Good Star account) because Petrosaudi represented to 1MDB that the account belonged to Petrosaudi's affiliate.
According to Shahrol, it was one of Petrosaudi International's executives, either Patrick Mahoney or Tarek Obaid, who made the representation.
Shahrol claims that he only knew about Jho Low was the owner of Good Star when he read about the matter on media reports years later.

Court resumes proceedings
11.21am - Proceedings resume.
10.28am - Court goes for a short break.

1MDB board unaware US$1b split payment meant for JV company
10.22am - Former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmis admits during cross-examination that the 1MDB board was not informed about the decision to split the US$1 billion by 1MDB meant for the 1MDB-Petrosaudi joint-venture company (JVC) into US$300 million and US$700 million.
Shafee: The board only authorised one lump sum to be paid only to the JV company and in return receive one billion shares. Who decided to split it contrary to board decision?
Shahrol: I had agreed to the split on assumption it was alright and given the fact that (wanted businessperson) Jho (Low) was in close contact with Najib (Abdul Razak), and during the (Sept) 26 (1MDB) board meeting, at that time, my frame of mind was "This is something that needs to be done and everything is in order".
(Then 1MDB chief financial officer) Casey (Tang) advice me this is alright and we will inform the board afterwards of the circumstances.
Shafee: The board's consent was not obtained before the split?
Shahrol: Yes.
Shafee: What was the difficulty in asking the board (for permission)?
Shahrol: Time constraint and the need to get things done.
The court had previously heard that US$700 million of the money was diverted to Jho Low's company, Good Star Limited.

Proceedings begin as Najib enters the dock
9.45am - Najib Abdul Razak enters the dock as proceedings begin.
9.32am - Accused Najib Abdul Razak enters court and takes a seat at the front row of the public gallery to await beginning of proceedings.
Also seen in court is his lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah and other members of the defence team, lead DPP Gopal Sri Ram and other DPPs.
Former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi is seen seated at the witness stand.

The defence team is expected to cross-examine former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi over the role of former PetroSaudi International (PSI) executive Xavier Justo in Najib Abdul Razak's RM2.28 billion 1MDB case.
Last week, the former prime minister's lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah informed the Kuala Lumpur High Court about his intent to question the ninth prosecution witness about Swiss-born whistleblower Justo.
Justo played a major role in exposing the convoluted 1MDB financial scandal, which at one point led to his 18-month imprisonment in Thailand.
As the 26th day of trial resumes before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah around 9.30am this morning, the accused's defence team is also expected to question Shahrol over correspondence between 1MDB, PSI and Germany-based investment bank, Deutsche Bank.
The US Department of Justice is investigating Deutsche Bank over its dealings with 1MDB. - Mkini

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