Sunday 04 Jun 2023
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KUALA LUMPUR (May 9): Fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, seemed to have such "excellent connections" with the Middle East due to the fact that he could precede Malaysian ambassadors in confirming the Prime Minister's Office's (PMO) appointments with the Middle East royals.

Najib's former special officer Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Shihab, who was testifying in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB)-Tanore trial at High Court, said that based on his observations Jho Low seemed to have "easy access" to the "palaces of the Middle East".

"I know these things because he was the one who connected me with the palaces of those Middle Eastern countries to arrange an audience with the king or the government of those countries," he said.

Based on Jho Low's information, Wan Ahmad would subsequently inform the international division of the PMO and it would make further arrangements until a visit was completed.

Wan Ahmad, 48, told the court that Jho Low had called him on several occasions to inform him of holiday invitations on luxury yachts in European waters by different Middle Eastern royals to Najib and his family.

Later during cross-examination by Najib's lead counsel, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Wan Ahmad reasserted Jho Low's excellent connections as he had information even before official channels did.

Shafee: You are aware by sheer observation that Jho Low seemed to have an excellent connection to the royals in the Middle East.

Wan Ahmad: 100%, absolutely... because each time I had to deal with the royal court, he put me through at the highest level. There were occasions when he would inform me ahead of when the officials would be in touch with the PMO. So he knew in advance even before we did.

Shafee: Even before our own ambassadors?

Wan Ahmad: Yes.

He also agreed with Shafee that Jho Low could have flipped the narrative to convey an impression that he was extremely close to the "Malaysians".

'Najib never disagreed with Jho Low's suggestion'

Wan Ahmad also testified that he would seek confirmation from the former premier whenever Jho Low contacted him about the holiday invitations.

On all three occasions — in 2009, 2010 and 2013 — Wan Ahmad, as the accompanying officer, testified that he would seek Najib's confirmation and he would be told to make arrangements for the trips.

During re-examination by Deputy Public Prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib, he said he had never received a negative answer from Najib whenever he sought confirmation about Jho Low's plans from the former premier.

Ahmad Akrab: Had you ever received a negative answer when you checked with Najib. Did he (Najib) say no?

Wan Ahmad: No.

In the 1MDB-Tanore trial, Najib is charged with four counts of abuse of power in enriching himself with RM2.3 billion of 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering of the same amount.

The trial continues on Tuesday before High Court Judge Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

The Edge is covering the trial live here.

Users of The Edge Markets app may tap here to access the live report.

Edited ByKathy Fong
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