Najib was 1MDB showrunner, former CEO tells high court
Former prime minister held veto power over board decisions
Updated 1 hour ago · Published on 05 Jan 2021 7:38PM
KUALA LUMPUR – Former 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) chief executive officer (CEO) told the high court today that the real shareholder of 1MDB was the government and the show was run by the former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman, 47, said that even though the 1MDB board had the power to deliberate and make decisions, it all came down to Najib as he held the veto power.
He said this when referred to Article 117 of the Memorandum and Articles of Association of 1MDB by Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah at Najib’s trial before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.
Article 117, among others, stated that any critical matter, including the removal of directors, financial commitments and changes to the senior management team, would require the approval of the prime minister.
The lawyer questioned the 10th prosecution witness if he had ever come across any occasion that Najib had invoked Article 117, to which the witness replied: “Not in that manner. As far as I understand, critical matters needed to be approved by Najib.”
Ida LimTue, 5 January 2021, 11:58 am
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 5 — Pekan MP Datuk Seri Najib Razak today failed in his bid to have the court vacate tomorrow’s trial for his 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) money-laundering and power abuse case.
On the first day of resuming trial, his lead defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah asked the High Court to grant Najib a day off tomorrow to visit flood-striken Pahang, as he is supposed to be in the dock.
“As they said, when bad things happen, they keep on happening, from Covid-19, now we have got this flood that is literally engulfing the east coast states and Pahang. My client is an MP there, the water at the moment is at one of the worse situations and is rising,” Shafee told judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.
According to Shafee, Najib did not visit his home state last weekend as the flood situation was not serious then, adding that it would look bad on the Pekan MP if he does not go tomorrow.
“If he doesn’t go tomorrow, it will be a very bad reflection on him, not only a reflection on him, but also affecting what people will say he has not done his duty as an MP to ensure his constituency and his people surrounding his area Pekan, Pahang is concerned and has taken certain action to reduce the pain and suffering of the people.
“So in light of that, my client has arranged — with Yang Arif’s permission — for him to be there tomorrow, possibly travelling this evening and coming back tomorrow, so he can be in court the day after tomorrow,” Shafee said, apologising to the court for having to make this application.
The judge rejected the application.
“I have been as accommodating as I could possibly be,” the judge said, pointing out that he had allowed Shafee’s previous request to not have the 1MDB trial resume yesterday and to only resume today.
“It’s a new year, this has to move, so the application by your client is denied, the case has to proceed,” he said.
The 1MDB trial is scheduled to run until Thursday.
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Najib not allowed to skip trial to visit flooded Pekan tomorrow
10.22am: Shafee applies that his client be allowed to be excused from attending tomorrow’s trial as the accused wants to visit his constituents in Pekan who are badly hit by the flood there.
“I asked him whether he went there last week and he said no as there were no floods then. But the situation in the last two days as can be seen in the media was much worse and he would like to be there to meet his constituents. Otherwise, there will be word and questions about his non-presence,” said the senior lawyer.
However, Justice Collin does not allow the application and directs that the trial to proceed as scheduled tomorrow.
10.22am: Former 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) chief executive officer (CEO) Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman, who is now a witness, is called to the stand.
Shafee says Najib not being allowed to share his thoughts is ‘unfair’
10.12am: Senior defence counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah argues that Najib not being allowed to share his thoughts on the issue is similar to “a boxer being sent to the ring with both hands tied”.
“Everybody else can say anything about my client. They call him a crook, a ‘perompak’, and nobody took action. [As for the] previous or current AG (attorney-general), both did nothing,” says the lawyer.
Muhammad Shafee asks the judge to reserve the matter for later as the defence would like to make a submission on the matter.
KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 5): After a three-month hiatus, the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) trial involving former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak resumes today in the High Court before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah.
On the witness stand is former 1MDB chief executive officer (CEO) Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman, who will continue to be cross-examined by Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
The trial resumes after it was postponed on Oct 5 last year, after the former Umno president went into self-quarantine following his trip to Sabah where he was busy campaigning to ensure the newly-formed Perikatan Nasional won the state election. The trial was subsequently postponed again because of the conditional movement control order (CMCO).
Hazem, who was the second CEO of 1MDB before former president and CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy took the reins, provided damning testimony against Najib, revealing that 1MDB was specifically set up by the former premier to help Umno obtain funds during his examination-in-chief by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Mohamad Mustafa P Kunyalam.
This, according to Hazem, was related to him by fugitive Penang-born businessman Low Taek Jho (Jho Low), who is seen as the man running 1MDB from behind the scenes since its earlier incarnation as the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) in 2009.
He also related how part of US$3 billion in 1MDB funds raised for the development of the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) was instead used to acquire land in Ayer Itam, Penang as part of Umno’s campaigning leading up to the 2013 general election (GE13).
Unlike his predecessor Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, Hazem told the court that he kept all the email correspondence he had with Jho Low despite the businessman asking him to delete them.
He also told the court that Najib would at times sign 1MDB’s shareholders’ resolutions before the directors’ circular resolution (DCR) was tabled.
The fund’s general legal counsel Jasmine Loo would prepare the DCR, and sometimes the shareholders’ resolution would be shown to Hazem first before it was presented to the board of directors.
“This [showed] that whatever planning came from [was] agreed by Najib. At times, Najib would sign shareholders’ resolutions which were not dated first before the DCR [was] signed by the board of directors and this showed that the directive came from Najib,” Hazem told the court.
Najib, who has been convicted and sentenced to 12 years’ jail and fined RM210 million in an earlier trial involving SRC International Sdn Bhd, is facing four counts of abuse of power for using his position as the prime minister, finance minister and 1MDB board of advisers chairman to receive gratification worth RM2.28 billion in the present 1MDB-Tanore trial.
On top of that, he also faces 21 counts of money laundering involving over RM4.3 billion.
The Edge is covering the trial live here.
Users of The Edge Markets app may tap here to access the live report.
Edited by Lam Jian Wyn