1MDB trial: Najib not the 'monster' that led 1MDB board of directors 'to the slaughter', defence argues

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, April 2 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak is not a ‘monster’ who led 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) board of directors like ‘lambs to the slaughter’ as characterised by a key witness in her testimony, the High Court heard today.

Najib’s defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah made the denial while cross-examining the 50th prosecution witness, former 1MDB general counsel Jasmine Loo, during Najib’s trial over the misappropriation of RM2.27 billion of 1MDB funds.

During cross-examination, Loo reiterated that 1MDB’s board of directors was influenced by Article 117 of the company’s constitution or Memorandum and Articles of Association (M&A), noting that it was general convention prior approval that the prime minister is required for key events or key decisions to take effect.

Prior approval from the prime minister included amendments to the company constitution; the appointment or removal of senior 1MDB management personnel; or decisions affecting national interest, national security, or government policies.

Muhammad Shafee had suggested to Loo that Najib, as the single and only shareholder in 1MDB, had merely abided by article 117 of the M&A by approving signing off on the deals and joint ventures that 1MDB’s board of directors had intended to enter into.

“Najib as the Finance minister did it (signed off) in accordance with the law, he took note of the director’s views and he gave the approval as stated in 117 as is his right as a shareholder.

“So, where is the inconsistency? Where is the paper (directors’ resolution) that made the prime minister that power and the monster and he led the poor directors like lamb to the slaughter?” Muhammad Shafee asked.

“Although it doesn’t say, in sum and substance, it is the same. 1MDB treated the shareholder in his capacity as Prime Minister,” Loo then responded.

Loo, who was 1MDB general counsel from May 2011 to November 2013, had previously emphasised that Najib was the same individual who was holding different roles at the same time — prime minister; representative of 1MDB’s shareholder Minister of Finance Incorporated (MoF Inc) via his role as finance minister; and as chairman of 1MDB’s board of advisers due to his role as prime minister.

Later, Muhammad Shafee described Loo as a ‘queen of restructuring and structuring deal’ as her legal background has made her a valuable asset to Malaysian fugitive Low Taek Jho or Jho Low.

To this, Loo reserved comments and said people were entitled to their opinions.

Later, Najib’s trial could not proceed further following a short recess past noon, as he had taken sick leave for diarrhoea.

Dr Mohd Hafiz Mohd Hoshni, who is a medical officer at the Kajang prison’s clinic, informed the court of Najib’s complaint of feeling unwell this morning which was relayed to him through prison officials.

Before calling Dr Mohd Hafiz to testify regarding Najib’s health condition, deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib informed the court that Najib as the accused person was not available to attend trial for the remainder of today.

According to the doctor, Najib said he had stomach aches and had gone to the toilet about three times, adding that he subsequently prescribed medication to Najib after an examination.

The medication’s side effects, however, would make Najib drowsy and may cause discomfort from prolonged sitting, Dr Mohd Hafiz explained.

Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah then allowed Najib sick leave for today and for the trial to resume the next day, with Shafee expected to continue cross-examining Loo.

In the 1MDB trial, Najib is facing 25 charges over the alleged misappropriation of more than RM2.28 billion of 1MDB funds which were said to have entered his private bank accounts at AmBank.

However, Najib claimed the funds were political donations to him from Saudi Arabia’s royalty.