Thursday, May 19, 2022

We believed Jho Low legitimately represented Najib, ex-1MDB CFO tells court

Azmi Tahir says the fugitive businessman was introduced to him by Najib Razak's late principal private secretary, Azlin Alias.

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Former 1MDB chief financial officer (CFO) Azmi Tahir told the Kuala Lumpur High Court today that he had not met fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low off the road, but believed that he was the representative of Najib Razak in 1MDB.

Azmi, 49, said this was because Jho Low was introduced to him by Najib’s late principal private secretary, Azlin Alias.

He was being cross-examined as the 12th prosecution witness by Najib’s counsel, Hariharan Tara Singh, at the former prime minister’s trial over the misappropriation of RM2.3 billion in funds from 1MDB.

Hariharan: As the then CFO, don’t you think it was inappropriate to take instructions from Jho Low who was not part of the company (1MDB)?

Azmi: No… because, the events leading to how I met him and all that, and what I believed and everyone else too. We thought he was legitimately representing Najib. I didn’t meet him off the road somewhere, he was introduced by the late Azlin.

Azmi then testified on the meeting on Dec 15, 2013 at Najib’s residence with KPMG Malaysia, which was held as KPMG was dissatisfied with the explanations and documents provided in relation to the company’s investment of US$2.3 billion in an unknown fund, Bridge Global SPC, made through Brazen Sky Ltd, a special purpose vehicle of 1MDB.

Azmi along with former 1MDB CEO Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman and former 1MDB chairman Lodin Wok Kamaruddin were in attendance together with Jho Low and Najib.

When asked why he had not verified these transfers when he met Najib at the meeting, Azmi said that in hindsight, he should have. However, he added that he did not think it was an appropriate forum to speak to Najib about it.

Hariharan: Wouldn’t it have been prudent to check on the transactions? Why didn’t you verify the matter with Najib? You should have asked Najib himself.

Azmi: It’s very convenient to say I should have walked up to the PM (Najib) and asked… I’m sorry, I don’t think it was professional.

To another question, Azmi agreed that Jho Low had benefited from the movement of funds from 1MDB to his company, Good Star Ltd.

However, he disagreed with the lawyer’s suggestion that he was part of Jho Low’s plan to misappropriate 1MDB funds.

He also said that he had carried out all instructions from Jho Low without questioning him.

Najib, the Pekan MP, 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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