KUALA LUMPUR : Now-fugitive Low Taek Jho was present at former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s house to meet a banker about 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s (1MDB) US$2.318 billion purported overseas “investment”, a former 1MDB CEO insisted in court today (Nov 9).
Mohd Hazem Abd Rahman said this while testifying as the 10th prosecution witness in Najib’s trial involving more than RM2 billion of 1MDB funds.
Najib’s lawyer Mardhiyah Mohamed Sirajkumar today sought to cast doubt on whether Low — better known as Jho Low — had actually attended the November 28, 2013 meeting at Najib’s private residence on Jalan Langgak Duta in Kuala Lumpur.
Hazem had previously testified that he had upon his arrival at Najib’s house at around 5pm seen Low and Najib talking to each other, and that the meeting subsequently began 10 to 20 minutes later with Najib, Najib’s then principal private secretary Datuk Azlin Alias, Hazem himself, 1MDB directors Tan Sri Ismee Ismail and Tan Sri Lodin Wok Kamaruddin, and 1MDB chief financial officer Azmi Tahir.
Hazem had previously also said BSI Bank Singapore’s managing director Yak Yew Chee, who was present at Najib’s house, then joined the meeting after the initial discussions between Najib and the 1MDB officers.
Mardhiyah questioned the truthfulness of Hazem’s testimony of Low’s presence at Najib’s house in that November 28, 2013 meeting, asking Hazem why he had not revealed this during a meeting between 1MDB and the company’s auditors KPMG the next day on the same US$2.3 billion purported investment.
Hazem rejected this idea as he maintained that Low had attended the meeting.
Mardhiyah: In your witness statement, you mentioned Jho Low was also present in this meeting. Why was it not disclosed with KPMG?
Hazem: Never supposed to share or raise Jho Low’s name in any formal meeting.
Mardhiyah: I say you were being untruthful when you said Jho Low attended the meeting with Datuk Seri Najib.
Mardhiyah: You were being untruthful when you said Jho Low was present in Datuk Seri Najib’s residence for the meeting.
Mardhiyah: You are just saying this now because you want to implicate Datuk Seri Najib as being close to Jho Low.
Hazem: I disagree.
At that time, the auditor KPMG had yet to sign off on its audit for 1MDB’s financial statement for the year ending March 31, 2013, as it was still pressing 1MDB for further details on the company’s alleged US$2.3 billion investment abroad.
The alleged investment by 1MDB — via six promissory notes claimed to be worth US$2.318 billion but now known to be worthless pieces of paper — were “invested” in the purported Cayman Island-based hedge fund Bridge Global Absolute Return Fund SPC, with the Singapore branch of Swiss bank BSI Bank acting as the “fund manager” of the purported investment.
Hazem had previously testified of 1MDB’s efforts to explain the US$2.318 billion investment to KPMG, with BSI Bank also writing to the auditors to provide assurance on the investment’s status and showing the account statement for the investment.
Hazem had previously also testified that KPMG had later on December 15, 2013 met with Najib at night in the latter’s house regarding the same US$2.318 billion investment.
Hazem had previously testified that Najib had questioned in the meeting why KPMG had continued to raise doubts over the investment’s underlying asset after BSI Bank had produced the account statement, and said Najib had expressed his desire to KPMG that he would want to see the 1MDB account audit completed before December 31, 2013.
As KPMG did not close its audit of 1MDB’s 2013 financials due to continued dissatisfaction with the documents and answers provided and with 1MDB under pressure to have the audit report closed, 1MDB’s board of directors on December 31, 2013 then decided to terminate KPMG as its auditor and to replace it with auditor Deloitte KassimChan.
The trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes tomorrow, with Mardhiyah expected to further cross-examine Hazem.
On the first day of Najib’s 1MDB trial, the prosecution had said it would prove that Low was allegedly the “alter ego” and “mirror image” of Najib, and had also said it would establish facts that would result in an irresistible inference that both of them had acted as one at all material times.
By : IDA LIM – MALAY MAIL