Monday 22 Jul 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 15): Former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz on Tuesday (Aug 15) denied that her family was close to infamous fugitive financier Low Taek Jho (Jho Low), a key figure in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal.

Testifying as the prosecution's 46th witness in the 1MDB-Tanore trial, Zeti was asked by defence counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah if Jho Low became close to her husband Datuk Dr Tawfiq Ayman and was in the habit of visiting her home to cook the family pasta.

Shafee: Jho Low became close to your husband, and was in the habit of coming in the weekend to your house, where he would cook pasta for the family.

Zeti: [That is] ridiculous and preposterous.

The senior lawyer also highlighted a purported conversation between Zeti and former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak —  the sole person accused in this trial —  where Zeti allegedly said that Jho Low was in the habit of giving her expensive gifts.

Zeti, who turns 76 this year, also denied this allegation.

Shafee: [Do] you remember an occasion when you met the [former] PM, and one of the subjects you discussed, and this matter came from [you] unsolicited, [was that] Jho Low was fond of giving you expensive presents, and you said 'I accepted them but returned them'.

Zeti: I have never received any gifts from anyone, including Jho Low. I don't recall any discussions relating to gifts.

When asked by Shafee earlier if she knew the fugitive financier, Zeti answered that she knew him, but had "no association with him at all".

However, the senior lawyer also suggested on Tuesday that Jho Low — a Wharton business school dropout — had used this link to grow close to Zeti's husband, who was a Wharton alumnus.

To this, Zeti sharply asserted, "That is not correct."

Shafee: I'm putting it to you that Jho Low was close to your family and your husband, and [they] were business partners.

Zeti: [That's] not true.

On the witness stand on Tuesday, Zeti also affirmed Shafee's question that she lived in Bukit Tunku, close to Najib's Langgak Duta residence, when she was the BNM governor.

Shafee: There were occasions when Jho Low had meetings with others at the [then] PM's residence.

Zeti: I am not aware.

Shafee: Every time [there were] meetings, he would excuse himself, because he said [he had] to go and see Zeti. [Najib] told you this?

Zeti: I am not aware.

It has to be noted, however, that Shafee did not state the specific dates that these alleged conversations cited in his cross-examination took place.

Najib is on trial on four counts of abuse of power and 21 counts of money laundering involving RM2.28 billion of 1MDB funds.

The trial before judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues.

The Edge is covering the trial live here.

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

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