KUALA LUMPUR: A witness told the High Court that 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) linked fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low shared a very close relationship with Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
The witness, former 1MDB chief executive officer (CEO) Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi said he concluded the duo’s closeness through an observation he made when Low took him to the former prime minister’s official residence in Putrajaya.
“Gradually I saw that they were very close. I observed this when Jho Low took me to the Deputy Prime Minister’s residence in Putrajaya. Najib was already Prime Minister at that time but was still occupying the DPM’s residence.
“Jho Low took me straight to the gate. He demonstrated familiarity from the entrance to the waiting area. The guard also showed familiarity with him. He asked for ‘Milo Ais’ and we met Najib,” Shahrol said today recalling the occasion.
Under examination in chief by lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, the witness said the conversation they had during the meeting at Najib’s home was to introduce Maurizio La Noce, the CEO of Mubadala Petroleum.
He said there were already prior discussions between Mubadala and Najib before the meeting.
Shahrol, in his 270-page textbook-like witness statement, said Low had direct access to Najib and this became more obvious to him when he was appointed CEO of Terengganu Investment Authority Berhad (TIA), now known as 1MDB.
He said he was certain that Najib had given Low the mandate to manage operations of TIA through documents on talking points and action plans.
“Each of Low’s action in outlining Najib’s instructions will be agreed on and approved by Najib himself.
"I see him as a facilitator between Sultan of Terengganu Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin (who was then the Yang di-Pertuan Agong) and Najib, who was representing the Federal Government.
"Jho Low was an important person to Najib and has always protected Najib’s interest from the start,” he said.
Shahrol added that through his observation, during board of directors' meetings, Low could directly contact Najib to ask for his views and guidance on matters.
Trial continues tomorrow before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.
Najib, 66, is facing four charges of having used his position to obtain gratification totalling RM2.3 billion in 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same money.