Thursday, May 26, 2022

Ex-1MDB CFO denies receiving bribes from Goldman Sachs

Azmi Tahir also denies conspiring in connection with transfers of US$790 million from 1MDB Energy (Langat) Limited to Aabar Investments PJS Ltd.

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Former 1MDB chief financial officer (CFO) Azmi Tahir today denied that he had received bribes from Goldman Sachs to enable the latter to make significant profits from a US$1.75 billion bond issued in October 2012 by 1MDB Energy (Langat) Limited (1MELL).

Azmi, 49, said this when cross-examined by Najib Razak’s counsel, Tania Scivetti, at the former prime minister’s trial over the misappropriation of RM2.3 billion in funds from 1MDB.

The 12th prosecution witness disagreed with the counsel’s suggestion that his alleged failure to negotiate a lower interest rate for 1MELL had benefited the financial institution by enabling it to profit significantly from the higher interest rate charged, and denied having taken bribes from Tim Leissner, former banker of Goldman Sachs.

Scivetti: I put it to you, with your inaction to negotiate a better interest rate for 1MDB, that you, Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi and Mohd Hazem Abd Rahman enabled Goldman Sachs to profit significantly from 1MDB, and in return for them to do so, Leissner and Goldman Sachs paid bribes to 1MDB officials which were you, Shahrol Azral, Hazem and others in the 1MDB management.

Azmi: I disagree. I don’t know about the rest, but I disagree.

Shahrol was CEO of 1MDB from 2009 to March 2013, while Hazem served as CEO until January 2015.

Scivetti: Surely you would be aware from the news that Tim Leissner pleaded guilty to bribing 1MDB?

Azmi: That’s why I say I don’t know about the rest, but for me, I disagree.

Scivetti: The 1MDB officials that Leissner and Goldman Sachs officers pleaded guilty to bribing were in fact, you, Shahrol and Hazem?

Azmi: No, I disagree.

He also denied that he had conspired with Leissner, fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low, as well as top officials of 1MDB in connection with transfers of US$790 million (RM3.3 billion) from 1MELL to Aabar Investments PJS Ltd.

He likewise disagreed that he and the said individuals had conspired to manipulate and mislead the 1MDB board of directors as well as Najib, who was the shareholder at the material time over the US$790 million transactions.

Scivetti: You know, 16 Goldman Sachs employees were charged over 1MDB scandal, but despite being a director of 1MELL and signing all the documents, you were not charged?

Azmi: Correct.

Scivetti: Shahrol, you and Hazem were not charged. I put it to you that you were not charged because you provided evidence against Najib.

Azmi: I’m not sure.

Scivetti: I’m asking you.

Azmi: I disagree.

Najib 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 on March 14.

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