Jho Low ‘runs’ 1MDB – former CEO tells High Court

‘Might as well follow (Low’s instructions) or you better quit,’ says Mohd Hazem.

Low Taek Jho runs 1MDB, the sovereign wealth fund’s former CEO, Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman testified.

The 10th prosecution witness told the Kuala Lumpur High Court this during former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak’s RM2.28 billion 1MDB corruption trial today.

Hazem said Low runs 1MDB, especially in areas of investments.

He said this during cross-examination by the accused’s defence counsel, Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammad.

Hazem said Low, who is also known as Jho Low, relayed these instructions through emails.

He was responding to Wan Aizuddin’s questions on Low’s email to the witness over 1MDB’s acquisition of independent power plants (IPPs) Genting Sanyen and Tanjong Energy.

In Hazem’s written witness statement, he claimed that Low provided justifications that can be used for the acquisitions if the public raised issues.

“Jho Low runs the company. If I say something that opposes the instructions, then it would affect my career (at 1MDB),” the witness testified before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

Hazem explained the culture at 1MDB then that one had to follow along, such as following Low’s instructions on using suggested justification for the acquisitions.

Wan Aizuddin: Did he threaten to sack you?

Hazem: No.

Wan Azuddin: Did he say that with this attitude (Hazem’s reluctance to abide by certain instructions from Low), then you would not get anywhere in 1MDB?

Hazem: It is that might as well follow or you better quit.

When Wan Aizuddin further asked how this culture was cultivated in 1MDB – whereby if “one does not run with the pack, then one would get in trouble” – Hazem explained that it was not a question of popular opinion but abiding by Low’s instructions.

The witness explained that in the end, he finally quit being 1MDB CEO in March 2015, two years after taking over the helm from Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi.

The trial before Sequerah would resume around 1.30pm tomorrow.

Today, the 1MDB trial could not proceed in the morning because Najib and his defence team had to attend to a separate legal matter in a separate High Court in the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex.

Tomorrow’s 1MDB proceedings would also only resume at 1.30pm due to Najib and his defence team needing to attend another court hearing in the morning.

The other hearing concerns the government’s 1MDB-linked RM 680 million forfeiture suit against Obyu Holdings Sdn Bhd. Najib is among the third parties seeking to contest the amount sought to be forfeited by the authorities in the suit.

Concerning the criminal matter before Sequerah, Najib is on trial for four counts of abuse of power and 21 counts of money laundering involving RM2.28 billion of 1MDB’s funds.

Aside from being the former prime minister, the accused was also finance minister and chairperson of the board of advisors of 1MDB.

The Minister of Finance Incorporated (MOF Inc) wholly owns 1MDB.


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