In court, ex-1MDB CEO denies lying, testifying against Najib to save himself

KUALA LUMPUR : A former CEO of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) today denied that he was a liar and that he was giving testimony in court against former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to avoid being prosecuted.

Mohd Hazem Abd Rahman, who was CEO of 1MDB from March 2013 to early January 2015, was testifying as the 10th prosecution witness in Najib’s criminal trial involving more than RM2 billion of funds allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB.

Najib’s lawyer Mardhiyah Mohamed Sirajkumar today launched a barrage of accusations against Hazem, saying “Based on all these answers you have given me these last couple of days, I put it to you that you are a liar.”

Hazem replied “I disagree” with a slight chuckle.

Mardhiyah then continued, pressing: “I put it to you, you seem to only remember whatever that implicates Datuk Seri Najib in your witness statement, including Jho Low’s purported access to Datuk Seri Najib. Yet whenever it comes to matters you were directly involved in, you seem to conveniently forget.”

But Hazem again said he disagreed.

Hazem also disagreed with Mardhiyah’s suggestion that his alleged failure to remember facts despite being in attendance or having heard matters first-hand was due to his intention of protecting himself from being charged in court.

While agreeing that he was part of the management of 1MDB which the prosecution had said was run like a “Chinese coffee shop in Petaling Street”, Hazem said he had “no comment” when Mardhiyah suggested that Hazem had committed offences under the Companies Act and the Penal Code by having operated the company in such a manner.

Mardhiyah suggested “I put it to you that is the reason why you are lying in court, to save yourselves”, to which Hazem disagreed.

Hazem also disagreed with Mardhiyah’s suggestions that he was implicating Najib as part of a purported deal to avoid both being prosecuted and involved in civil lawsuits by 1MDB, also disagreeing with Mardhiyah’s claim that 1MDB had filed a lawsuit against him and then dropped him from the lawsuit in order to have him come to court to testify against Najib.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured leaving the Kuala Lumpur High Court  November 10,2021. — Picture by Meira Zulyana
Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured leaving the Kuala Lumpur High Court November 10,2021. — Picture by Meira Zulyana

At this point, High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah noted that Najib’s lead defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah had asked similar questions, with Mardhiyah agreeing but saying she wanted to ask Hazem these questions based on his answers in court this week.

Back in August, Hazem had disagreed with Shafee’s suggestion that he had made a deal to testify against Najib in the latter’s trial in exchange for not being sued or charged.

Among other things, Hazem had also disagreed to Mardhiyah’s suggestion that Low Taek Jho — better known as Jho Low — lacked direct access to Najib.

Hazem also disagreed with Mardhiyah’s claim that he was the “real mirror image” of Low.

Quizzed by Mardhiyah, Hazem agreed that there was mismanagement in 1MDB by its management, which he attributed to instructions by Low.

Mardhiyah then asked: “You acted on the advice of a random Chinese guy?”

Hazem then said: “Yes.”

Hazem agreed that he has the sole responsibility and would be answerable for the mismanagement at 1MDB as he was the head of 1MDB, but disagreed with Mardhiyah’s claim that he was the mirror image of Low.

Mardhiyah suggested, “I put it to you that you carried out all of Jho Low’s instructions because you were the real mirror image of Jho Low”, to which Hazem disagreed.

Hazem firmly disagreed when Mardhiyah suggested that Najib had never acted according to Low’s instructions.

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.

Hazem had previously testified that Low was Najib’s special adviser for 1MDB affairs, and had also claimed that Low was the trusted right-hand man and proxy for Najib in terms of 1MDB. 

Later, when asked by Najib’s lawyer Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed, Hazem agreed that there was mismanagement in 1MDB and agreed such mismanagement had caused 1MDB to incur unnecessary financial liabilities and that such financial liabilities had to a certain extent run 1MDB to the ground.

Hazem also agreed that documents presented during the trial showed that funds were misappropriated from 1MDB, and agreed that most of the misappropriated funds were funnelled to various outfits to Low’s benefit.

But Hazem disagreed with Aizuddin’s suggestion that his alleged attitude as former CEO and former chief operating officer of 1MDB of purportedly “no questions asked and just signing the signing page” on documents had enabled the funds to be misappropriated from 1MDB.

Agreeing that Low, 1MDB general counsel Jasmine Loo and former 1MDB deputy chief financial officer Terence Geh are all now fugitives of the law, Hazem also agreed that it would only be Low that can confirm in court that he gave instructions to Hazem and whether such instructions from Low are from Najib.

Hazem also agreed that only Loo and Geh would be able to confirm that all the instructions relayed to them came from Low.

Najib’s trial, involving four charges of power abuse and 21 charges of money-laundering, is set to resume tomorrow.


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