A former 1MDB chief financial officer told the High Court today that every instruction given by fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low was considered to be a mandate from Najib Razak.
Azmi Tahir, 46, said he was once informed by the late Azlin Alias, the former principal private secretary to Najib, that Jho Low was the adviser or the person close to the former prime minister and that Jho Low was also the one giving information or instructions that needed to be followed as they were considered to come from Najib.
“I was also made to understand that Jho Low had close ties with Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia and that he was also Najib’s confidant. I only followed the instructions received by Azlin and Najib’s former special officer Amhari Effendi Nazaruddin as I considered those as instructions from the prime minister.
“During my tenure as 1MDB CFO, there was a clandestine operation managed and planned by Jho Low through instructions and blessings from Najib and certain individuals were chosen among the 1MDB top management and board of directors to ensure that the instructions were carried out. I can say that the system was working in silos,” he said.
The 12th prosecution witness said this when reading his witness statement in the trial of Najib, who is facing corruption and money laundering charges involving RM2.3 billion in 1MDB funds.
Azmi said he was also told that instructions from Najib were in line with Article 117 of the 1MDB Memorandum and Articles of Association as every important decision must be done on Najib’s instruction and approval.
“Najib had the ultimate power in making decisions especially in matters involving investments, finances and national interests. Apart from myself, among those from the top management involved in the 1MDB work-in-silo system were the former chief operating officer Mohd Hazem Abd Rahman, former CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, former chief investment officer Vincent Koh, former lawyer Jasmine Loo and deputy CFO Terence Geh.
“I only received instructions in parallel with those received by other top management officers and at the same time, Jho Low told me that each task was on a need-to-know basis, which meant that we would only be informed about something based on the scope of the task and only as far as we needed to know,” he said.
The witness said Jho Low would also send through email and Blackberry Messenger the talking points and action plans to him and others in the silo system.
“Once read, the emails must be immediately deleted as Jho Low didn’t want it to leak as the confidential instructions involved the decisions and requests of the prime minister which should be carried out promptly.
“Normally, critical decisions would be done through the directors’ circular resolution (DCR) without going through the board of directors as Jho Low would instruct Loo to prepare the DCR.
“The board would only have to sign the DCR without objection as it was Jho Low’s instruction,” he said.
Azmi said that all DCRs would be followed by Najib’s approval through a shareholder resolution document, which Najib had known of earlier based on his discussion with Jho Low.
“This is based on documents signed and in Najib’s knowledge as the then finance minister and prime minister.
“Overall, for me, Jho Low’s role was very significant as Najib’s adviser and it can also be said that Jho Low was the right-hand person and most trusted by Najib in 1MDB,” he added.
Najib, 68, is facing four corruption charges involving RM2.3 billion in 1MDB funds and 21 money laundering charges involving the same money.
The trial before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues.