Istana Negara questioned Jho Low’s role in TIA

Istana Negara questioned Jho Low’s role in TIA

KUALA LUMPUR: Istana Negara had questioned the role of fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho in the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) which later became 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah read out excerpts from the minutes of the second TIA meeting that was held on June 30, 2009 in the Parliament building, including Istana Negara’s views.

“Istana Negara representative questioned who and what role Jho Low has. Istana Negara is worried that there are quarters that have misused the name of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.”

At that time, Terengganu ruler Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin was the country’s Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Shafee noted that Najib’s former special officer Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin was recorded as present in the meeting where Low’s role was raised.

Amhari, who is the eighth prosecution witness in Najib’s trial, told Shafee that he did not remember this point being discussed during the 2009 meeting.

Today is the sixth day of Najib’s trial over 1MDB.

Trial will resume before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah this afternoon.

Najib is facing four counts of power abuse for his own financial benefit totalling almost RM2.3 billion allegedly originating from 1MDB and the resulting 21 counts of money-laundering.

Amhari also clarified that Jho Low claimed to be the then Agong’s advisor.

Shafee: I am putting it to you that you cannot remember that and you are putting this up because of your precarious position in MACC on whether you will be charged or not?

Amhari: I disagree.

The senior lawyer asks whether the witness remembers Jho Low claiming that he was advisor to the former Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin and Amhari replies he did, but he cannot remember whether it was true or not.

It was also confirmed that Jho Low was appointed as TIA adviser but claimed to be TIA chairman.

Shafee: Are you aware that in order to make it look proper, (Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi) and (Tan Sri Ismee Ismail) had on April 8, 2009 appointed (Datuk Aziz Ab Aziz Rahim) and Jho Low as TIA advisers? They formally appointed them.

Amhari: No, I’m not aware.

Shafee refers to a document with Shahrol’s and Ismee’s signature appointing Jho Low to be the company’s adviser.

Shafee: You know about this?

Amhari: Yes.

Shafee: You know that he was never adviser to the Agong? So is it clear that at no material time that Jho Low was adviser to the Terengganu Sultan who was also at that time the Agong?

Amhari: I don’t know. But I know he claims to have said that. 

Shafee referred to an email from former AmBank relationship manager Joanna Yu.

“Sorry I got a slight typo in the email. It should be special advisor to the chairman of TIA board of advisers, not special advisor to the company.” The email, purported sent by Jho Low, reads.

The chairman of TIA’s board of advisers at that time was Najib. 

Sri Ram interjects, saying that the witness has no personal knowledge on this matter so should not be asked.

Shafee concurs and moves on.

Shafee: Ok. Are you aware that just before the meeting on April 2009, Jho Low claims to be the adviser to the chairman of TIA? Were you aware?

Amhari: I’m not aware. 

When questioned again on Jho Low, Amhari said that Jho Low’s appointment as TIA adviser was kept a secret.

Shafee: Was there a document at that time to show that Jho Low was in fact appointed as a special adviser to DSNR (Najib)? Is there a letter to such effect?

Amhari: There isn’t and I’m not aware of it.

Shafee: You also said in your statement that this appointment is “secara sulit (confidential)”. Do you have any document to show that it is “secara sulit”?

Amhari: There is no letter to show it.

Shafee: What do you mean by “secara sulit” then?

Amhari: Because there are only a few people who are within Najib’s close circle and Jho Low is one of them.

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