KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court heard that Datuk Seri Najib Razak is believed to “bulldozed” his way for a ministerial letter to support the issuance of US$3bil (RM12.6bil) in bonds for a joint venture (JV) between 1MDBand Aabar Investment PJS According to Former 1MDB CEO Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, 49, the fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, had told him this when he questioned whether the Finance Ministry would be able to issue the letter of support (LOS) in time.
The said joint venture was aimed for investments in the property sector in Abu Dhabi and the Tun Razak Exchange. “Jho Low had told me that ‘boss will bulldoze, don’t worry’, which meant that Najib, as the (then) finance minister and prime minister, would ensure that the LOS would be issued in the nearest time.“Everything was arranged and it indeed took place because Najib wanted it to be done, ” he said.
The ninth witness in the 1MDB trial was in an examination-in-chief conducted by lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram here yesterday.
In the 1MDB trial, the ninth witness is already under examination-in-chief conducted by lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram here yesterday.
According to reports, the LOS in question was to support a letter dated Jan 15,2013 – which was signed by Shahrol and sent to Najib – titled “1Malaysia Development Berhad -Abu Dhabi and Malaysia US$6bil Strategic Acquisition Fund between 1MDB and Aabar Investment PJS”.
Low had instructed for 1MDB to issue the Jan 15 letter as he wanted it to look as if the work process had come from the CEO, which was Shahrol, and not Najib, Shahrol said.
He added that Low had fixed the fund amount at US$6bil by way of a 50:50 JV whereby 1MDB would have to inject half of the JV value at US$3bil.Shahrol testified that the Jan 15 letter was addressed to Najib because Low wanted to have financial support from the Finance Ministry for the JV. It was prepared by company lawyer Jasmine Loo.
“Najib then made a note for the ministry’s action and for the ministry to issue the LOS to guarantee the issuance of US$3bil in bonds, ” said Shahrol. “The same day I put down my signature on the letter, Najib minuted the Treasury secretary-general to take immediate action.“This shows how Najib wanted this matter to be handled immediately, ” he added.
Another letter was also shown to the witness by Sri Ram, which was the LOS from the Finance Ministry to 1MDB Global Investment Ltd dated March 14,2013.
He had seen the document, according to Shahrol, which was issued to support the issuance of a US$3bil in bonds following the JV between 1MDB and Aabar.
It was proven that two days before the LOS was issued, 1MDB and Aabar had inked the deal on March 12, 2013. “Jho Low told me 1MDB should not be worried because Najib would ‘bulldoze’, which meant he would use his power to ensure that the LOS would be out.“Until today, I remember the keyword (bulldoze) because it was a big deal and proven by Najib’s action, which was in line with what Jho had said.”
It was impossible for the Finance Ministry to issue the LOS in such a short span of time without direct interference from Najib, Shahrol said.
The former prime minister Najib, 66 is currently facing 25 charges in total – four for abuse of power that allegedly brought him the financial benefit to the tune of RM2.3bil; and 21 for money laundering involving the same amount of money.
If found guilty, he will face imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine of up to five times the sum or value of the gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher.
The trial continues before High Court judge Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah today.
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