Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Najib never moved to dissociate himself from Jho Low, says ex-1MDB CEO

He says 'Jho Low was basically the man of the PM'.

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The High Court was today told that former prime minister Najib Razak did not say or do anything to dissociate himself from fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low.

Testifying under re-examination by senior deputy public prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram, former 1MDB CEO Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman said Najib had never issued any instruction not to comply with the instructions given by Jho Low in all matters related to 1MDB.

Sri Ram: When you had the meeting at the accused’s (Najib) house and Jho Low was present, what was your observation of the relationship between Jho Low and the accused?

Hazem: It was very, very close.

Sri Ram then asked the 49-year-old witness why he obeyed instructions from Jho Low, to which Hazem said all the instructions from Jho Low “came from Najib himself”.

Questioned further by Sri Ram on why he would follow instructions from Jho Low, the 10th prosecution witness said: ”Jho Low was basically the man of the PM.”

Hazem also said that Jho Low’s role in 1MDB was concealed during meetings with accounting firm KPMG Malaysia to discuss the company’s audit because Jho Low himself had asked that his name not be revealed.

Further questioned about the removal of KPMG Malaysia as the strategic development company’s auditor, Hazem said the audit firm refused to sign off on 1MDB’s 2013 financial year audit report and that he received pressure, including from Najib himself, to ensure that the audit report was signed.

“I was called directly by him (Najib) asking me to find a way to solve this (signing off the audit report) and the only way to solve this was to replace KPMG with a new auditor.

“At the time, I was in no position to disobey Najib as he was the prime minister,” said Hazem.

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 1MDB’s financial year 2013 accounts.

Hazem also said he did not receive a single sen from the purportedly misappropriated money from 1MDB funds nor was he given any monetary compensation by Jho Low for allegedly conspiring to siphon money from the company.

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 justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues tomorrow.

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