Ex-PM Najib ‘relax je’ when US$700m transferred from 1MDB to firm owned by Jho Low, ex-finance minister tells court

·3-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, June 22 — Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak “kept quiet” and “did nothing” when US$700 million out of US$1 billion from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) was diverted to a company with no links to 1MDB — which later turned out to be owned by fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho — in September 2009, the High Court heard today.

While testifying as the 20th prosecution witness in Najib’s trial over the misappropriation of more than RM2 billion of 1MDB funds, former finance minister II Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah earlier recalled in court how Najib had initially reacted when confronted over the matter.

Cross-examined by defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Ahmad Husni said he had approached Najib and asked the latter why 1MDB made the US$700 million transfer to Low-owned Good Star Limited and not PetroSaudi’s bank account instead.

“But when I told him (Najib) there was no action from him.

“What I meant is he is the prime minister, if any other person, they would have reacted immediately, but he kept quiet; he didn't do anything,” Ahmad Husni told the court.

The US$1 billion was supposed to be deposited into 1MDB-PetroSaudi’s BSI bank account for the purpose of acquiring a 40 per cent share in the purported joint venture firm of 1MDB PetroSaudi Limited in the British Virgin Islands but only US$300 million was moved into this account.

A former Deutsche Bank (M) Berhad employee previously testified that 1MDB officials informed the bank to transfer out the US$1 billion of 1MDB funds to two bank accounts instead, with instructions to split the funds into two transactions of US$300 million to a JP Morgan bank account and US$700 million to an RBS Coutts bank account without telling Deutsche Bank who were the account holders on September 30, 2009.

It was only a couple of days after the US$1 billion was sent out that Deutsche Bank discovered that one of the accounts — which received US$700 million — was actually Good Star Limited, instead of PetroSaudi International as claimed by 1MDB initially on the day of the transactions.

At that time, Deutsche Bank had asked 1MDB but 1MDB had claimed Good Star was a subsidiary of 1MDB’s purported joint venture partner PetroSaudi International Limited.

Ahmad Husni also said he would have been “worried” if he was the prime minister since the transfer of such a significant amount would have affected the financial position of the Malaysian government.

“If I was the top leader, I would definitely get shocked and immediately demand for action to be taken.

“But he (Najib) relax je,” he said.

Asked whether he was aware that the 1MDB board of directors had made attempts to repatriate the money, Ahmad Husni said he did not know.

Even though the RBS Coutts account appeared to be portrayed to bank officials as having links to PetroSaudi International, former 1MDB chief executive Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi testified in this trial previously that Jho Low had later told him the RBS Coutts bank account 11116073 belonged to Good Star Limited.

On the first day of trial, the prosecution had said it would show that US$24.5 million of the US$700 million to Good Star had ended up with a “Prince Faisal”, who had then allegedly transferred US$20 million (equivalent to RM60,629,839.43) to Najib’s personal bank account in two transactions of US$10 million each in February 2011 and June 2011.

Najib’s 1MDB trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes tomorrow, with the prosecution saying that Ahmad Husni is expected to be re-examined tomorrow and that another banker will be called in to testify.

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