Monday, October 18, 2021

Jho Low attended special 1MDB board meeting in 2009, ex-company secretary tells court

He says Jho Low was appointed as 1MDB's adviser on April 8, 2009.

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Fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, was present at the special board meeting of 1MDB held at the Royale Bintang Damansara on Sept 26, 2009, the High Court heard today.

Former 1MDB company secretary Lim Poh Seng, 50, said the meeting chaired by Mohd Bakke Salleh was also attended by Che Lodin Wok Kamaruddin, Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, Azlan Zainol, Ismee Ismail and Casey Tang Keng Chee.

Lim, who referred to the minutes of the meeting, said he was not present at the meeting as he was on leave, and that the minutes were prepared by Kelvin Tan Kay Jin, the former director of Investments of Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA). TIA was renamed 1MDB in 2009.

The 10th prosecution witness who is now a general manager at B&M Consultancy Services Sdn Bhd however said he attended two other meetings held at the same hotel on Oct 3 and 10, 2009, where Jho Low was not present.

On Jan 13, former auditor-general Ambrin Buang told the court that the National Audit Department (NAD) was asked to drop a paragraph on the presence of Jho Low at the 1MDB board of directors meeting in 2009 from the final 1MDB audit report on grounds of sensitivity.

Explaining the Oct 3, 2009 meeting, Lim said 1MDB’s board had raised questions on the management headed by Shahrol over the joint venture with PetroSaudi Holdings (Cayman) Limited, including the valuation report and funds to be injected into the joint venture company.

He said this during the examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor Mohamad Mustafa P Kunyalam at the trial of Najib Razak and former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy on the alleged tampering with the final 1MDB audit report.

When asked by lead prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram about Jho Low’s role in 1MDB, Lim replied, “Jho Low was appointed as adviser of 1MDB on April 8, 2009.”

Sri Ram: You did not attend the Sept 26, 2009 special board meeting, right? But when you received the minutes from Kelvin Tan, did it alarm you when you saw Jho Low’s name?

Lim: No.

The witness also confirmed that Najib had approved the remuneration of RM120,000 annually for the chairman of the 1MDB board of advisers and RM96,000 for the board of advisers members on June 6, 2010.

Sri Ram: Do you know who was the chairman of the 1MDB board of advisers?

Lim: No.

Sri Ram: You really can’t recall?

Lim: Yes.

Previously, former 1MDB CEO Shahrol testified that Najib had set for himself an allowance of RM120,000 per year as chairman of 1MDB’s board of advisers and that he had also fixed RM96,000 as a yearly allowance for the board of advisers members.

Cross-examined by counsel Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed, representing Najib, the witness said the government officials from NAD had never requested from him the 1MDB company records for 2009 and 2011 when conducting their audit.

“I resigned as the 1MDB company secretary during the NAD audit exercise in 2015 and 2016. Goh Gaik Kim was the company secretary after I resigned,” said Lim.

Najib, 68, is charged with using his position to order amendments to the final 1MDB audit report before it was presented to the Public Accounts Committee to avoid any action against him. Arul Kanda, 45, is charged with abetting Najib in making the amendments to the report to protect Najib from being subjected to action.

They were both charged under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009, which provides for a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

The trial before judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan continues tomorrow.

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