Thursday 20 Jun 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 14): Former 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) general counsel Jasmine Loo Ai Swan said that she had waited outside former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s house in Langgak Duta on occasion while fugitive Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, would take certain documents inside the house to get Najib’s signature in regards to agreements of 1MDB.

Loo, testifying as the 50th prosecution witness in the case, shed light on the modus operandi of Jho Low and how 1MDB was run.

She said that as Najib was the special rights redeemable shareholder representative and as the shareholder representative for ordinary shareholders of 1MDB, there were documents which needed his signature, such as the special rights redeemable preference shareholder resolution (SRRP) and minutes by representatives of the holding company (MR).

Reading from her witness statement, she said Jho Low always handled getting Najib’s signature for these documents.

She was elaborating on how the Turin Project had started. The project involved 1MDB’s intention in 2012 to purchase two independent power producers (IPPs), one of which was from a company owned by Ananda Krishnan, namely Usaha Tegas Sdn Bhd. The IPP in question was Tanjong Energy Holdings Sdn Bhd.

After meetings with Usaha Tegas, Loo said she was tasked with preparing the SRRP and MR for Najib to sign.

"In 2012 and 2013, the documents that I prepared — the SRRP and MR — were printed and put in a plastic folder, and I gave them to Jho Low by hand delivery anywhere that Jho Low directed, including at the door of Datuk Seri Najib Razak's residence in Langgak Duta, Kuala Lumpur.

"If not, I would give the plastic folder to any individual directed by Jho Low, and that individual would hand it over to Jho Low to obtain [Najib]'s signature. Only after Jho Low obtained [Najib's signature would] Jho Low hand over the SSRP and MR to me personally, or to any individual, to be given to me. If it was not handed over to me, Jho Low would send me a message via his BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) to ensure that the documents were handed over to the 1MDB office for further action," Loo testified.

Deputy public prosecutor Deepa Nair Thevaharan asked the witness to elaborate further on obtaining Najib’s signature for this deal, whether she had gone to Najib’s house.

“I would wait for Jho Low in front of the gate. If he was already at the gate, he would wait for me, and I would pass the documents. When he asked me to wait outside, he would come out of Najib's home and take the documents," Loo said.

Deepa: Did you also enter Najib's house?

Loo: No, I didn't. I just waited at the gate.

Deepa: Did you get the documents back with Najib's signature?

Loo: Yes.

Earlier, Loo testified that former 1MDB chief executive officer Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi and 1MDB were looking at these IPPs as another investment opportunity for 1MDB. It should be noted that 1MDB was in heavy debt at this time.

She said that 1MDB was trying to find new projects according to the focused sectors that included real estate, hospitality, and energy.

Loo testified that the meeting between 1MDB and Usaha Tegas representatives took place later in January 2012. The entire working team attended the meeting led by Shahrol. Among matters discussed were how to make the purchase a success, information for due diligence, and finding a method to satisfy all parties before the sale and purchase agreement was drafted.

Loo said that Shahrol had informed her that Goldman Sach’s Tim Leissner would be involved and act as an adviser in the Turin Project.

"Goldman Sachs led by [former banker] Tim Leissner was a 'long-standing adviser' to Ananda Krishnan and Usaha Tegas. Therefore, it was easier for 1MDB to use the services of Goldman Sachs as a consultant and intermediary,” she said.

She then went on to testify that after the meeting in January, in February 2012, she was contacted by Jho Low to attend lunch with him.

"When I got there, I saw that Jho Low was there with Tim Leissner. In this meeting, Tim Leissner and Jho Low [were] discussing fundraising for the Turin Project.

"The discussion [was] about whether a local loan can be obtained to cover the purchase price and how much, what collateral method [would] be made, which bank can be identified, interest rate, asset value and so on.

"Tim Leissner and Jho Low also discussed the cost overruns of the Turin Project acquisition that could not be covered by local loans. Tim Leissner suggested that Goldman Sachs issue a bond to cover the remaining costs of the acquisition and purchase.

"But Tim Leissner asked what would support this bond as there were no other 1MDB assets that could be pledged. One of the suggestions given by Tim Leissner was for the Malaysian government to issue a government guarantee (GG) but Jho Low replied that it was quite impossible because 1MDB already had a GG for another 1MDB fundraising. At this time there was a suggestion to find a third party to guarantee the bonds to be issued by 1MDB," she said.

Jasmine testified that not long after that she was informed by Shahrol that 1MDB would go into a joint venture with Aabar Investment PJS Abu Dhabi and its parent company International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) would provide guarantees for the issuance of 1MDB bonds.

Goldmans Sachs was instructed to issue a proposal paper, structure this bond, and advise 1MDB in relation to this bond. Jasmine added that at the end of February 2012, Shahrol instructed her to accompany Goldman to meet with Aabar and IPIC to introduce them to 1MDB.

"The purpose of Goldman Sachs going there was to explain about the Turin Project and find a way to advance the proposed bond issue. I went as a representative of 1MDB. Jho Low had informed me that he would organise everything regarding the visit with Mohamed Badawy Al-Husseiny, who was the then-CEO of Aabar Investment PJS Abu Dhabi, and Khadem al-Qubaisi, who was the then-managing director of IPIC and chairman of Aabar Investment PJS Abu Dhabi," she said.

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 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.

The Edge is covering the trial live here.

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

Edited BySurin Murugiah
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