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Ex-1MDB chief says controlled by Jho Low ‘to a certain extent’

Mohd Hazem Abd Rahman says he and former chief financial officer Azmi Tahir had carried out Jho Low's instructions during a meeting with accounting firm KPMG Malaysia in 2013.

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Former 1MDB CEO Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman. Photo: Bernama
Former 1MDB CEO Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman. Photo: Bernama

A former 1MDB CEO admitted at the High Court yesterday that he was, to a certain extent, under the control of fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low.

Mohd Hazem Abd Rahman, 49, conceded to a suggestion posed by lawyer Mardhiyah Siraj that he and former 1MDB chief financial officer Azmi Tahir were under the control of Jho Low as they had carried out his instructions during a meeting with an accounting firm, KPMG Malaysia in 2013.

“To a certain extent, yes,” said Mohd Hazem when cross-examined by Mardhiyah, who is representing Najib Razak in the former prime minister’s trial over the misappropriation of RM2.3 billion in funds from 1MDB.

Mardhiyah, in her line of questioning, was referring to a paragraph from Hazem’s witness statement where he said Jho Low had emailed him, Azmi, and former 1MDB executive director Terence Geh a “briefing package” before the 2013 meeting.

The “briefing package” had contained an explanation from Jho Low which emphasised the answers to the issues raised by KPMG and the strategies needed to be followed by the representatives on 1MDB during the meeting.

KPMG was appointed as 1MDB’s auditor for the financial years of 2010, 2011 and 2012 but was sacked in 2013 after it refused to sign off on 1MDB’s accounts for the 2013 financial year.

Further questioned by the lawyer, Hazem disagreed that he, Azmi and Geh had followed Jho Low’s email instructions to the disadvantage of 1MDB.

The lawyer also suggested to the witness that the reason why he as the CEO of 1MDB had to rely upon Jho Low’s email was because he had conspired with the fugitive financier to conceal some facts from the accounting firm and the 1MDB board of directors, to which Hazem disagreed.

Mardhiyah: Why couldn’t the (1MDB) management satisfy KPMG’s requests to its question? Why couldn’t you provide the information to your auditor? Why rely on Jho Low and his emails?

Hazem: As I highlighted throughout the course of the proceedings, I relied upon the finance team and information given by Jho Low.

Najib, 68, faces 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 justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues today.