Monday, September 27, 2021

Ex-1MDB CEO tells court unsure if Bank Negara gave green light for huge transactions

Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman speaks during cross-examination by Najib Razak's lawyer.

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A former CEO of 1MDB told the Kuala Lumpur High Court that he was not sure whether the company had obtained permission from Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) to transfer huge amounts of money to various entities.

Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman, 49, said this during cross-examination by Najib Razak’s lead counsel, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, at the former prime minister’s trial on the misappropriation of RM2.3 billion from 1MDB funds.

Shafee was questioning the 10th prosecution witness on the US$975 million loan taken by 1MDB from Deutsche Bank for the purpose of a buy-back option from one of its investment partners.

The lawyer said that parts of the said loan were not used for the real purpose but had been transferred from 1MDB Energy Holdings Limited in two tranches (US$223 million and US$475 million) to a shell company, Aabar Investments PJS Ltd (Seychelles) in September 2014 and then to various other entities.

Shafee: Do you know that permission was needed for the transfer of such huge amounts of money originating from Malaysia?

Hazem: I agreed, technically.

Shafee: Did you get BNM’s permission when you transferred out millions of money from 1MDB to various entities?

Hazem: I’m not sure.

Shafee: Do you know that it was an offence if you did not get permission from BNM?

Hazem: I don’t know but likelihood, yes.

Shafee: The loan from Deutsche Bank was for a specific purpose and when the purpose was not fulfilled, did you realise that you and the others had committed criminal breach of trust (CBT) of the company’s funds?

Hazem: Yes, technically.

Shafee: Technically, it was CBT. It was also money laundering.

Hazem: Yes.

Shafee then asked if anyone had investigated the witness under CBT or money laundering offences, to which Hazem replied, “No.”

“The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has been very kind to you,” Shafee said.

The lawyer also said that Hazem should be sent to jail for CBT and laundering of the sovereign wealth fund’s money.

Najib, 68, is facing four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion from 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.

The trial before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues on Sept 13.

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