Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Jho Low was de facto boss, Najib put on an act, ex-1MDB CEO tells court

Mohd Hazem Abd Rahman says he believed the instructions coming from the two were the same.

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The 1MDB trial involving Najib Razak today heard that fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho was the de facto CEO of the sovereign fund, adding that the former prime minister had put on a drama when enquiring about missing funds, the Malay Mail reports.

It quoted former 1MDB CEO Mohd Hazem Abd Rahman who told the High Court that he believed the instructions coming from Najib and Low, better known as Jho Low, were the same.

Testifying at Najib’s trial on charges of abusing funds involving RM2.28 billion, Hazem who is the 10th prosecution witness said despite Low not holding any position at 1MDB, he was present at a meeting on the company’s affairs with the then-prime minister.

Cross examined by Najib’s counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Hazem said 1MDB senior officials Terence Geh and Jasmine Loo took instructions from Low, although he was the CEO.

“Why didn’t you at least bring this up to the board of directors?” Shafee asked, as reported by the Malay Mail.

“I think we go back to what I told before, they are the people of Jho Low, and Jho Low basically is the prime minister,” replied Hazem, adding that he had discussed the matter with Najib’s private secretary Azlin Alias as well as two directors of 1MDB.

Hazem said then-1MDB chairman Lodin Wok Kamaruddin was also aware that the company was being run by Jho Low.

Najib has been charged with four counts of abuse of power for using his position as prime minister, finance minister and 1MDB adviser to receive gratification worth RM2.28 billion, as well as 21 counts of money laundering involving over RM4.3 billion.

Jho Low at Najib’s house

Hazem, admitting that he had not taken measures to clarify with Najib about Jho Low’s role, said there had been meetings on 1MDB where Jho Low was present, including one in November 2013 at the former leader’s house in Jalan Langgak Duta, Kuala Lumpur, to discuss a RM2.3 billion investment by 1MDB.

“It’s very clear that he (Low) shouldn’t be there at all. He was there and accepted in the meeting,” he said.

Grilled further by Shafee, Hazem said he had not confronted Najib with his suspicions about missing funds as he was convinced that Najib already knew the funds were gone.

“Because as far as I’m concerned, the prime minister knows it, he is part of the scheme,” he was quoted as saying.

Hazem previously testified that he had been told by Jho Low that 1MDB was established to help Umno get funds.

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