The chairman of The Edge Media Group told the Kuala Lumpur High Court yesterday that Najib Razak asked him to leave his residence in Langgak Duta when he suggested that fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low be prosecuted over the stolen 1MDB funds.
Tong Kooi Ong, 63, said during the meeting on March 6, 2015, he suggested that the former prime minister charge Jho Low as the US$700 million belonging to 1MDB was transferred to Good Star Ltd, a company owned by the businessman.
The 43rd prosecution witness said this when questioned by senior deputy public prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram at Najib’s trial on the misappropriation of RM2.3 billion from 1MDB.
Sri Ram: Do you recall having a meeting with Najib on March 6, 2015 at about 10.45pm? Why did you go to see Najib?
Tong: Yes, I do. Following the various evidence, the emails we (The Edge team) obtained from former PetroSaudi International Ltd (PSI) executive Xavier Andre Justo... after analysing them, we were concerned about what was happening.
As I recall, parliamentarian Abd Aziz Sheikh Fadzir introduced me to Baling MP Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim. I had a meeting with Azeez at Bangsar Shopping Centre and we shared concerns over 1MDB. Azeez then suggested that I should meet Najib.
Explaining his meeting with Najib, Tong said the former prime minister said that the articles The Edge had been carrying since 2010 were wrong.
Sri Ram: What exactly did you tell him (Najib)?
Tong: I basically explained what was already in our possession – the emails (from) PetroSaudi that Justo had passed to us in Singapore. There were thousands and thousands of emails, but from what we extracted, there was clear evidence that PetroSaudi (which went into a joint venture with 1MDB) wasn’t a company owned by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It was a privately-owned company.
I also told him that the US$1 billion pumped into the joint venture was not based on real evaluation; namely, the oil and gas assets were not owned by PetroSaudi. I explained to him that the valuation was not real. That the money, US$700 million (from the joint venture), went to Good Star. I basically explained that Good Star belonged to Jho Low.
Sri Ram: Did you suggest what should be done with Jho Low?
Tong: Yes, I did. I saw Najib as a friend. I told him that Jho Low had done something wrong and should be investigated and prosecuted. He stole the US$700 million.
Sri Ram: When you told this, what was Najib’s reaction?
Tong: After I told him this, he stood up and went to the door. He opened the door for me to leave.
Sri Ram: And did you leave?
Tong: Yes, of course.
When asked whether The Edge had continued writing articles on 1MDB issues, Tong said they probably wrote even more 1MDB-related articles after the meeting.
Tong also testified that as a consequence of publishing articles related to 1MDB, three other Edge reporters were investigated by the police and were detained overnight in lock-up.
"In fact, I was banned from leaving the country, and I was also investigated by the Inland Revenue Board for money laundering and tax evasion. The Edge’s publication was suspended, but that was lifted by the court," he said.
Najib, 69, 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 judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues today.