KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 16 — Government-owned firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s (1MDB) former general counsel or in-house lawyer Jasmine Loo Ai Swan had always been in contact with Malaysian fugitive Low Taek Jho — better known as Jho Low — over the last five years, the High Court heard today.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Foo Wei Min, who is an investigator for both former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1MDB trial and the recovery of assets which Loo bought using 1MDB funds, confirmed this today.
Foo was testifying as the 48th prosecution witness in Najib’s 1MDB trial, when Najib’s lead defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah turned the focus on Loo.
Shafee: You agree with me, Jasmine Loo was always in contact with Jho Low pertaining to Tanore Finance Corp?
Foo: She always have contact with Jho Low during she absconded for five years, but she never informed us that she discussed over Tanore.
Shafee: You only know that she has always contacted Jho Low?
Foo: Yes, they have contact, yes, Jho Low has always contacted her, but not in regards of Tanore.
He confirmed Loo said this during the police’s investigations.
Later, Foo agreed with Shafee that he was aware that Loo had met Low in China not so long ago before her recent surrender to Malaysian authorities, later adding that this took place in 2019.
Shafee: You took her statement and she told you she went to see Jho Low in China?
Foo: That is true, she went to see Jho Low in China.
Shafee: What year?
When Shafee suggested that there were some “previous officers of 1MDB” present when Loo met with Low in China, Foo merely said that “with her there were some other officials”. Shafee suggested that former 1MDB officers such as Azmi Tahir and Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi were present, but Foo said he was unsure.
In this case, Najib is facing 21 money laundering charges, due to his alleged receiving of RM2.08 billion of illegal funds — originally belonging to 1MDB subsidiary 1MDB Global Investments Limited (1MDB GIL) — from Tanore Finance Corp’s Falcon Private Bank account, and his alleged subsequent use and transfer of those unlawful funds.
Tanore Finance Corp is owned by Low’s associate Tan Kim Loong.
Shafee today launched into his series of questions on Loo, after producing a power of attorney document where she was named as the operator of Tanore’s bank account in Falcon Private Bank.
Following Loo’s recent arrest in Kuala Lumpur, Foo confirmed he had recorded her statement in August and September as part of a team investigating asset recovery, while a separate team is carrying out a separate investigation on predicate offences.
Foo said he did not ask Loo on how she dealt with Tanore as his investigation was only focused on where she had kept all the assets “she purchased by using funds from 1MDB” and on the recovery of such assets linked to ill-gotten gains, and on how 1MDB money was used to purchase some property by her “as a proxy for someone”. Foo confirmed he was tracing down these assets.
Among other things, Shafee suggested that Low misled Loo by claiming that Tanore is owned by the Saudi royal family, but Foo said he was unaware of this.
Foo confirmed that he had investigated and found that Najib does not have any offshore bank accounts, agreeing with Shafee that having an offshore account is one of the ways criminals can hide their ill-gotten gains.
ACP Foo Wei Min arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex on November 16, 2023. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Foo agreed that Loo would be a critical witness for the 1MDB trial in relation to the 21 money laundering charges and that she could give testimony that could either harm or favour Najib.
Shafee had suggested that Loo could “either put all the four nails in the coffin of Datuk Seri Najib to bury him further or her testimony can actually be favourable to Datuk Seri Najib in relation to Datuk Seri Najib’s knowledge or lack of knowledge about the money.”
Among other things, Foo said Loo had told investigators that she has “no control over any accounts of Tanore Finance Corp”.
When Shafee suggested that Loo and Low were “thick as thieves” or “very close”, Foo said Loo was a personal assistant (PA) for Low.
“Yes, PA in the sort, wherever he goes, he will bring Jasmine Loo together for meetings and everything, so she will arrange the meetings for Jho Low,” Foo said.
Shafee suggested that Loo’s general function is to carry out legal documentation “to make what is an illegal transaction to be what seems to be legal”, but Foo said she had denied such claims when her statement was recorded during investigations.
“From the statement, she denied it, she said she has very few access to the legal documents.”
When asked if he knew Loo was so close to Low that she went to a World Cup Final football match in Brazil with him and with others, Foo said he was not aware of this and that this was not part of his investigation.
Shafee also asked if he was aware that Low had brought these individuals in by private jet to the football match and that Loo had taken photographs of everyone in that group at the final, but Foo said he was not aware.
After Shafee’s cross-examination of Foo, deputy public prosecutor Najwa Bistamam then started his re-examination.
Najib’s 1MDB trial before judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes on December 5 afternoon.
On the first day of trial, the prosecution said it will prove that Low was the alter ego and mirror image of Najib.
MORE TO COME