Thursday 20 Jun 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 13): Former 1MDB general counsel Jasmine Loo Ai Swan took the witness stand to testify in former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1MDB-Tanore trial at the High Court on Tuesday.

Loo, 50, had been on the run from 2018 up until her return to Malaysia in July 2023, where she was immediately arrested and questioned by the police before being handed to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Earlier, Loo, who arrived in court dressed in a black and white suit and sporting a face mask, was snuck in and out of the courtroom to avoid having her pictures taken. She testified at 4.12pm under the watchful eye of her lawyer Edmund Bon.

The former lawyer, who is also the prosecution’s 50th witness in the trial, said she joined 1MDB in May 2011, relaying how she joined the company after getting acquainted with Jho Low while at UBG Bhd.

“There in Oct 2008, I received an offer to work with UBG and that was the first time I met Jho Low, who was UBG’s director, and Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, who is the director of investments in UBG,” Loo said.

“I later joined 1MDB in May and was involved in the investment with PetroSaudi International (PSI).

“I was tasked with 1MDB former chief executive officer Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi to prepare the Special Rights Redeemable Preference (SRRP) shareholder resolution in writing, minutes by representative of holding company relating to proceedings of subsidiary company pursuant to Section 147 (6) of Companies Act (MR) and directors’ circular resolution (DCR) and additional documents in relation to murabaha notes for it to be brought to London,” she said.

Responding to questions from deputy public prosecutor T Deepa Nair, Loo testified that she prepared a template of the documents and passed these to then 1MDB secretary Goh Gaik Kim.

The documents prepared by her included SRRP, MR which were to be signed by Najib. She said that she had received guidance from Shahrol Azral in the preparation of the documents as she had no prior experience when it came to preparing the documents.

“The SRRP and MR which is to be signed by Najib, is for 1MDB to give additional funding to PSI so as to maintain the g-to-g relations with the Saudi Arabia government,” she said, adding she went to London with Shahrol and Goh a day before a meeting with the 1MDB board, which was held at the Hilton Park Lane, London on May 16, 2011.

She added that it was while in London that she saw Jho Low together with PSI representatives Tarek Obaid and Patrick Mahony, with Najib arriving thereafter. The witness then delved into what transpired in the meeting, where she was asked to table the 1MDB agreement for the murabaha notes for additional funding in the joint-venture with PSI that included the investment in Venezuela.

Loo is seen as a vital witness in Najib’s 1MDB-Tanore trial, where he faces four counts of abuse of power for using his position as then prime minister, finance minister and chairman of 1MDB’s board of advisers to enrich himself with RM2.3 billion of 1MDB funds, and 21 counts of money laundering of the same amount.

Loo, a close associate of fugitive at large Low Taek Jho or Jho Low, has been named as a key figure in the 1MDB scandal.

Kee Kok Thiam, another Jho Low accomplice, also surrendered to the authorities in May last year. However, Kee died a few weeks later after suffering a stroke at the Sungai Buloh Hospital.

Besides Jho Low, former 1MDB chief investment officer Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil is also still at large.

I met Najib with other 1MDB management, never personally, says Loo

Loo testified that normally, it was the responsibility of the company secretary and 1MDB CEO to get the signature on the DCR.

However, for the SRRP and MR, with regards to the 1MDB investment, she prepared the documents for them to be handed to Jho Low to get Najib’s signature, being the finance minister and the representative for 1MDB’s sole shareholder, the Ministry of Finance.

“After all the documents are signed by Najib, it would be sent to me as general counsel or directly to the 1MDB CEO office (Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi).

“I would like to state in my service with 1MDB, I would only meet Najib with other 1MDB management. I have not met Najib or dealt with him personally on any matters with regards to 1MDB,” the witness said.

There were times, Loo said, where Jho Low would ask her to prepare 1MDB-related documents to be signed by Najib, and she would prepare these and inform Shahrol Azral of Jho Low’s requests.

“After I prepared the documents, I do not know how Jho Low obtained Najib’s signature.

“Jho Low would use his influence as a person who is close to the then prime minister that is Najib. His (Jho Low’s) actions is as if he wants him to be portrayed as the proxy of Malaysia’s PM, as chairman of the 1MDB board of advisers.”

“All the major events (in 1MDB regarding investment) needs the go-ahead of the prime minister first, and Jho Low is the go-to person to be brought to Najib,” she added.

Earlier, MACC investigating officer Nur Aida Arifin testified that there was something abnormal about the running of 1MDB.

“I noticed there is no compliance to corporate governance. For example, the DCR implementation is accompanied by SRRP of Najib as he is also the shareholder of 1MDB through MoF Inc. It is only after the SRRP and DCR is there, then the required action is implemented.

Nur Aida also referred to the fund's high bond issuances, which she said were "more than the required finance" for its operations.

Loo, prior to joining 1MDB, was employed with UBG where she drew a monthly salary of RM45,000. She is scheduled to continue her testimony before Court of Appeal judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah, who is the trial judge, on Wednesday.

The Edge is covering the trial live here.

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

Edited ByAdam Aziz
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