KUALA LUMPUR: An argument broke out between a key witness and Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah today over inconsistencies during the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) trial.
The drama unfolded in the High Court when Shafee questioned the eight prosecution witness Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin and alleged that there were inconsistencies in his statement.
Shafee also claimed that Amhari had fabricated his statement as he (Amhari) was working in cahoots with fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low, which the witness disagreed.
Amhari who sounded annoyed with the line of questions posed to him defended his statements saying that every point he made from the witness stand carried a different context.
Shafee during his cross-examination stated that in paragraph 17 of Amhari’s statement, the witness and his former late boss Datuk Seri Azlin Alias ‘most of the time’ checked with Najib on instructions they received from Low.
However, Shafee said this was in contradiction with the witness’s statement in paragraph 25 which stated that Amhari and Azlin only checked with Najib "sometimes" and "whenever necessary."
Azlin was then Najib’s principal special officer. He died in a helicopter crash in April 2015.
Shafee: I put it to you that you are being inconsistent in paragraph 17, where you have the impression that mostly you or Azlin would check with Najib but in paragraph 25, you said ‘adakalanya’ (sometimes) and whenever necessary, you or Azlin would check with Najib.
Amhari: I disagree, because the nature of checking with Najib is not rigid … I will ask him only on important or sensitive issues.
Shafee: Datuk, you're not being relevant.
Amhari: I am being relevant. We (special officers) try not to trouble Najib… if the issue involves social media, I will try not to bother him.
The exchange between the duo took some 15 minutes before Amhari finally agreed that they checked with Najib only when needed.
Shafee claimed that the witness also sought to imply that Low’s instruction was also Najib’s instruction, which the witness disagreed.
Shafee: I put it to you that you actually worked hand-in-hand with Low and that is why you were rewarded with USD$1 million.
Amhari: I disagree.
Shafee then moved to another issue where the witness described Azlin as Najib’s loyalist, who would execute any order from him without question.
Shafee: You said Azlin is very confidential, but at the same time you said Azlin knew everything about 1MDB including its funds, and Najib’s political strategy. Did Azlin tell you this (about 1MDB)?
Amhari: Yes… he told me but in a broad manner.
Shafee said Amhari’s statement was inconsistent because he was bound to make a mistake as the statement was lengthy.
The argument between them suddenly receded when Shafee out of curiosity asked Amhari about a secret meeting between him, Azlin and Low.
Shafee: Out of curiosity, why Prince Hotel… the place is not that good.
Amhari: It was suggested by Low. I checked with Azlin and he agreed.
Shafee: I wanted to know why … a lot of ‘bad things’ were done in Prince Hotel… drug dealing also.
Amhari: It was chosen by Low.
Shafee: You did not check with Najib (on the meeting)?
Shafee: The defence lawyer knows a lot about hotels in Kuala Lumpur.
Shafee’s statement drew laughter from the public gallery.
Amhari said Low informed him that he had gone to Najib’s house in Langgak Duta before attending the secret meeting.
Shafee: Why did all of you not go to Najib’s house for a meeting? It would have been a lot easier, right?
Amhari: It did not work out that way, because an appointment with Najib was decided by himself (the Pekan MP). For that meeting (Najib and Low), we were not invited.
Amhari, who worked with Najib for almost 10 years, said he had also deleted all of his email contents early this year, after he was released from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)’s remand.
Shafee: Why did you delete your inbox?
Amhari: Because I wanted to make space for new incoming emails. I do this annually.
Shafee: Are you arrested annually?
Shafee: When did you delete your inbox?
Amhari: Early this year.
Shafee: When you were released?
Amhari: July last year.
Amhari also said it never crossed his mind that Najib was being misled by Low.
Proceedings continue tomorrow.
Najib 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.
The former finance and prime minister is alleged to have committed gratification offences at the AmIslamic Bank Berhad, at No.55, Jalan Raja Chulan, Bukit Ceylon here between Feb 24, 2011, and Dec 19, 2014.
For the money laundering charges, Najib is alleged to have committed the offences at the same bank between March 22, 2013, and Aug 30, 2013.