Najib 1mdb Trial Day 17 Jho Low S Involvement Kept Low Key To Protect Najib S Position Shahrol




The criminal trial of former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak involving the alleged abuse of power and money laundering of 1MDB funds enters its 17th day today at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur
Malaysiakini brings you live reports of the proceedings
Summary of Najib’s 1MDB ‘donation’ caseNajib is facing 25 charges of receiving RM2.28 billion, which originated from 1MDB through Tanore Finance Corp, a company owned by Eric Tan, a close associate of fugitive businessperson Jho Low
21 money laundering charges4 abuse of power chargesClick to view information on judge, prosecution and defence teamKEY HIGHLIGHTSJho Low’s involvement kept low-key to protect Najib's position - ShahrolJho Low wanted all emails, chats deleted to protect 'the boss' - witnessEx-1MDB CEO denies having beneficial ownership in shell companiesEx-CEO - Opposition parties derailed 1MDB's IPO plansI was in Team Najib, I was playing my role - ShahrolI can't blame Najib for being conned by Jho Low - ex-1MDB CEOWitness observed Tuanku Mizan was familiar with Jho LowTIA was the brainchild of Tuanku Mizan, not Najib - witnessNajib not involved in TIA’s early stage, says former 1MDB CEOGoldman Sachs was involved since TIA’s early days - ShahrolTravel ban was to prevent my disappearance: ex-1MDB CEOJho Low pegged me as a person who is not a 'busybody' - witnessShahrol studied at Stanford University, barely managed to graduateWitness’ biggest takeaway from RMC was learning chain of commandShahrol was top student at Royal Military CollegeThank you for following Malaysiakini's live reportThank you for following our live report today
4.32pm - The trial is adjourned for the day and will resume at 9.30am tomorrow
Jho Low’s involvement kept low-key to protect Najib's position - Shahrol4.27pm - Former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi testifies that Jho Low wanted to keep his involvement in 1MDB under wraps to prevent Najib Abdul Razak's position from being weakened in Umno
The ninth witness says Jho Low told him that his involvement from 2009 to 2011 need to be kept under wraps as many within Umno were jealous of Jho Low's access to Najib
"It started being a problem when Najib became the sole stakeholder in 1MDB and there was a lot of ‘perasaan dengki’ (jealousy) from people within Umno over Jho Low's influence and access to Najib
"It made sense to me when Jho Low informed me that his involvement needs to be kept low-key as to not weaken Najib's position in Umno. I accepted this explanation (from Jho Low)
"In 2009, 2010 and 2011, not many people knew Jho Low was playing a big role in Najib’s relationships with Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, and even the Chinese at the time," Shahrol testifies
Jho Low wanted all emails, chats deleted to protect 'the boss' - witness4.15pm - The court hears that former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi received instruction from Jho Low to delete emails and Blackberry Messenger chats between them
This is similar to what a previous witness, Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin, had told the court
Amhari was a special officer to Najib Abdul Razak when he was deputy prime minister and prime minister of Malaysia
According to Shahrol, Jho Low told him that they have to delete all their emails and chats due to political attacks and to protect "the boss". While he did not elaborate who the boss was, it is believed he was referring to Najib
Shahrol also testifies that he received two Blackberry devices from Jho Low, including one which he donated for a lucky draw at one of the 1MDB dinner events
Ex-1MDB CEO denies having beneficial ownership in shell companies3.37pm - Former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi denies having any beneficial ownership in shell companies
The ninth witness is denying a question from lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah whether he was the so-called 1MDB Officer 2, who allegedly had beneficial ownership in shell companies
Shafee is referring to Tim Leissner's (photo) allegation when the former Goldman Sachs banker pleaded guilty to criminal charges of conspiring to commit money laundering and to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act last year
Shafee claims that in pleading guilty, Leissner had alleged that he received money from wanted businessperson Jho Low and caused these funds to transfer to shell companies beneficially owned by 1MDB Officer 2, whom Shafee claims was Shahrol
Shahrol: I was not aware
Shafee: This is Tim Leissner's (claim) in mitigation (for a lighter sentence from the United States court). You have to respond (whether you are) the beneficial owner ‘1MDB Officer 2’
Shahrol: I do not have shell companies where I am the beneficial owner
Ex-CEO - Opposition parties derailed 1MDB's IPO plans3.10pm - The court hears from a former 1MDB CEO that the company had suffered problems with its initial public offerings (IPO) due to "a lot of negative media attention" created by the then opposition parties
Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi in his testimony agrees that the negative attention had prevented the IPO from happening
He says if the IPO had taken place, 1MDB's situation would have turned better
Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, the witness says 1MDB would be able to generate enough funds to acquire IPPs (independent power producers), which could then be used to expand its energy business
"So it would be quite something and we wouldn't have this cash flow issues. Bandar Malaysia (project) would have proceeded, TRX would have been on time, all these were supposed to happen in 2017," Shahrol says
Answering questions by Shafee later, Shahrol says that the initial target for the 1MDB to raise from the IPO was "something between RM20b and RM25b" total market cap
He adds that 1MDB would have only floated about one-third of the amount
Shahrol says that this amount, however, is based on his best recollection from when he left 1MDB in 2013
The witness then agrees with Shafee's suggestions that without the negative publicity by the then opposition, the 1MDB IPO plans would have worked out and that the country would not suffer from the company’s failure today
I was in Team Najib, I was playing my role - Shahrol2.59pm - "I was (in) Team Najib, I was playing my role"
This is what former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi testifies at the Kuala Lumpur High Court this afternoon
He is answering a question from lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah during cross-examination
Shahrol is testifying that during the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing at Parliament in 2015, he was unable to provide full answers as he was kept getting cut off during questioning by the panel
Shafee then asks Shahrol why the witness does not do anything about it in regards to being cut off during questioning by the PAC panel led by Rompin MP Hasan Arifin
Shafee reminds Shahrol that the PAC later came to the conclusion that the witness should be investigated for decisions made without the consent of the 1MDB board
Shahrol: I was (in) Team Najib, I was playing my role
Shafee: How could you be Team Najib when you were condemned
Shahrol: Even at that time, I trusted Najib and before all these other things came up, I was shown the money flow and the account. I still believed him (Najib) and that there was a political attack against him
I trusted Najib and his team that this was a political attack against him and I trusted that what I did as (1MDB) CEO was in accordance to Najib's wishes for the good of the country
Shafee: You believed this aspect, what you just said that you trusted Najib which implies what was done in 1MDB was right
Shahrol: Yes, right for the good of the country
2.38pm - Proceedings resume
I can't blame Najib for being conned by Jho Low - ex-1MDB CEO12.50pm - Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi concedes that he cannot blame Najib Abdul Razak for the former 1MDB CEO being conned by Jho Low
Ninth witness Shahrol admits this when under cross-examination by lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah
Shahrol says he began to doubt Jho Low only around 2015 while he did not doubt the fugitive financier in 2009
Shafee: As a (TIA and 1MDB) CEO, if you had implicit and explicit trust (in Jho Low), you would not blame my client the former prime minister (Najib). You yourself got conned (by Jho Low)
Shahrol: I would not blame him (Najib)
Shafee: You cannot say he (Najib) must be a culprit in the conspiracy
Shahrol: It was not my place to say anything
At this juncture, Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah adjourns proceedings for lunch break
Cross-examination of Shahrol will continue at 2.30pm
Witness observed Tuanku Mizan was familiar with Jho Low
12.40am - According to former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, from his short observation of Jho Low's conduct at Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin's palace in 2009, both of them were familiar with each other
Shahrol adds that he saw Jho Low was someone who "had the approval of the then Yang di-Pertuan Agong"
The witness testifies this when lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah asks him to confirm if Tuanku Mizan (above) was impressed with Jho Low back in 2009
Shafee: Can you confirm from your observation, that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (then), (who is also) the Sultan of Terengganu, was very impressed with Jho Low
Shahrol: It was a very short observation of the interactions between Jho and the Agong, which was then only about a couple of times in the istana (palace). But from the way Jho was conducting himself in the istana, I can see at least they were familiar (wuth each other) and he had the approval of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong at that time
The court also hears that Jho Low had the influence to secure an offer letter for Shahrol to become Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA)’s first CEO just over a weekend after being interviewed on a Friday in March 2009
TIA was the brainchild of Tuanku Mizan, not Najib - witness12.30pm - Witness Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi agrees to a question posed by the defence that 1MDB's precursor Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) was the brainchild or "baby" of the then Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin
He also agrees that it would be wrong for anyone to suggest that it was the idea of Najib Abdul Razak to create TIA as sovereign wealth fund for Terengganu and then to federalise the company
Najib not involved in TIA’s early stage, says former 1MDB CEO12.18pm - Former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi agrees with the defence that former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak was not involved in the early days of the sovereign wealth fund's predecessor, Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA)
The ninth witness concurs with the lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah during cross-examination over whether Najib was involved in the early stage of TIA back in early 2009
Shafee is referring to the time when international banking firm Goldman Sachs was emerging as a potential consultant for the setting up of TIA
Shafee: At this early stage of TIA, Najib was not involved, with Goldman Sachs already there with another consulting firm, and with advice from Jho Low
Shahrol: Yes
Shafee: Jho Low was there to ensure his advice is followed. You attended (related meetings) and you know about Jho Low's idea. Jho Low supported the appointment of Goldman Sachs and Jho Low pushed for it
Shahrol: Yes
Goldman Sachs was involved since TIA’s early days - Shahrol12.13pm - The court hears from Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi that the banking and investment firm Goldman Sachs had been involved with the 1MDB since the early days of its precursor Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA)
Shahrol, who was the 1MDB CEO from 2009 to 2013, testifies this based on documents related to the company which had been tendered as evidence in court
This includes a Request For Proposal document dated March 9, 2009, which shows that TIA had received proposals from Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Nomura
Travel ban was to prevent my disappearance: ex-1MDB CEO11.37am - The travel ban against former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi was to prevent the key witness from disappearing, the court hears
Ninth witness Shahrol says this during cross-examination by lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah
Shahrol is replying to questioning from Shafee on why the witness did not ask the authorities the reason for the travel ban
Shahrol says it was clear in his mind then that the travel ban against him was related to the 1MDB investigation
He says that he made this assumption because he was part of the group of people that included former 1MDB directors and senior management that were banned from travelling
Shahrol: It was to prevent people with information on the case from disappearing
Shafee: They (authorities) wanted to prevent you from disappearing
Shahrol: Yes
Shafee: You were regarded as a flight risk
Shahrol: I do not know
Shahrol, who is currently jobless, agrees with Shafee that the travel ban was a burden on the former as it made it difficult for him to find new employment
Jho Low pegged me as a person who is not a 'busybody' - witness10.36am - Wanted businessperson Low Taek Jho (below) had pegged former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi as a person who is not a busybody, the court hears
The ninth witness Shahrol tells lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah this during cross-examination
Shafee is asking Shahrol about paragraph two of his witness statement, where he states that "...Jho Low assessed on my character and personal (aspect) as only carrying out client's orders without asking many questions
The paragraph in question deals with the time that Shahrol, then managing director at Accenture, first met the fugitive financier in 2007
Shahrol: What I intended to convey at the time was that Jho Low pegged me as someone who is... I am struggling to find the words here... the word that comes to mind is “kepochi”, busybody is more appropriate here
Shafee: He (Jho Low) liked your character of just taking instruction without knowing the ultimate journey
Shahrol: Not quite. I just took enough information necessary to deliver the outcome as I understood it. Anything other than the outcome not relevant to the task at hand, I trusted other people to look at it
Shahrol studied at Stanford University, barely managed to graduate10.30am - Former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi testifies that he furthered his tertiary education in the United States in 1988 by doing pre-university at an institution in Los Angeles before going to Stanford University
He tells the court that he studied Electrical Engineering, and "barely managed" to graduate five years later in 1994
According to Shahrol, the normal period for completion of a degree in the course then was four years
Under cross-examination by the defence, Shahrol says that Stanford at that time was on the top three list of universities for engineering after MIT and Cal Tech
The witness says after graduating from Stanford, he got his first job at Andersen Consulting, which later became Accenture
Starting at the company as an intern in 1995, Shahrol then builds up his career to become an analyst, manager, senior manager, and eventually a partner-level executive with a drawn salary of close to RM30,000 before resigning in 2009
Witness’ biggest takeaway from RMC was learning chain of command9.50am - The court hears from a former 1MDB CEO that the biggest takeaway from his secondary studies at the Royal Military College (RMC) was learning the chain of command
Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi (below) says this during the cross-examination by defence lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who asks the witness if his years of studying in the military school had taught him to be independent
Shafee: Before you went to university, the five years in military college taught you to be very independent
Shahrol: Not necessarily. I think the biggest takeaway for me from RMC was the importance of the chain of command
The witness, however, agrees that the nature of his training at the college had taught him not to take everything blindly
For the record, it is also worth noting that the lead defence counsel is also a former RMC student, or known as “Old Putera”
Shahrol was top student at Royal Military College9.45am - Lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah starts his cross-examination on former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi over the latter's education background, including his performance during secondary education at the Royal Military College in Sungai Besi
The court hears from Shahrol that he spent five years studying in RMC from 1983 to 1987 at the college's boys’ wing
According to the witness, he did "quite well" in RMC, having bagged the Director of Studies’ Award when he completed Form 5 in 1987. Shahrol was in the science stream during his secondary education
For the record, the Director of Studies award is the recognition for the school’s top student in academics
The witness also tells the court that he scored A1 in all of his SPM subjects except for Bahasa Malaysia
When Shafee asks him what he got for Bahasa Malaysia subject, the witness says: "Just enough to enter the civil service, a credit 6."9.38am - The proceedings resume with former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak's lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah (below) beginning the cross-examination of former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi
The accused Najib is seen sitting in the dock as Shafee questions the prosecution’s ninth witness Shahrol
Today is the first day of Najib Abdul Razak's defence's cross-examination of former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, a key prosecution witness
As the former prime minister's RM2.28 billion 1MDB trial before Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah enters the 17th day this morning, the ninth prosecution witness Shahrol is expected to undergo extensive grilling by lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah
Last week, Shafee informed the court that the defence would need at least two weeks of hearing to cross-examine Shahrol, who was not short of gripping testimony gleaned from the witness' 270-page Witness Testimony as well as answers derived during examination-in-chief by lead DPP Gopal Sri Ram
On the final day of his examination-in-chief on Oct 1, Shahrol testified that the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) had instructed him and his successor K Arul Kanda to leave the country when the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) wanted to question them after the 1MDB scandal erupted in 2015
Shahrol also gave oral evidence that he was coached by fugitive businessperson Low Taek Jho. who also arranged for him to meet with BN members within the PAC, including then Kota Belud MP Abdul Rahman Dahlan, before he was actually questioned by the panel on the beleaguered state-owned fund. - Mkini

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