KUALA LUMPUR: Former 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) chief executive Mohd Hazem Abd Rahman told the High Court today that Datuk Seri Najib Razak had never dissociated himself from fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho @ Jho Low.
Jho Low, he said, was known to be “the man of the PM”.
In fact, the 10th prosecution witness said the former prime minister was “very, very close” to Jho Low.
Hazem said this when asked by senior deputy public prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram during re-examination about the meeting that took place at Najib’s house in Taman Duta, here, on Nov 28, 2013.
He was testifying in Najib’s trial over the misappropriation of RM2.28 billion funds from the sovereign wealth fund.
Hazem said during the meeting which was attended by him as well as Low, Najib did not say or do anything to dissociate himself from the latter.
He said he had never received any instructions from Najib to not follow Low’s instructions.
“Through my observation, Najib and Jho Low were very, very close,” he said.
However, he admitted that Low’s role in 1MDB was concealed during a meeting with accounting firm KPMG Malaysia, which was 1MDB’s auditor to discuss the company’s audit.
He said Low’s name was nowhere to be mentioned in the meeting because the latter had instructed to not reveal his name.
Re-examined on the removal of KPMG as 1MDB’s auditor, Hazem said he was pressured by Najib to do so because the firm did not want to close the 1MDB financial year 2013 audit report.
“I was called directly by the PM to update him about the closure. PM told me to find a way to solve this and the only way to solve it is to replace it (KPMG) with a new auditor,” he said.
Hazem also testified that he was in no position at that time to disobey the accused, who was the prime minister then.
The witness was then asked to confirm about the irregularity of the transactions which went in and out of 1MDB and denied that a single cent had went into his own bank account.
He also denied having benefitted financially in any way in any of the transactions.
The trial continues before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah tomorrow.
Najib, 68, is charged with 25 counts of abuse of power and money laundering involving RM2.28 billion of 1MDB funds which were deposited into his accounts between 2011 and 2014.
He faces 20 years’ jail and fine, if convicted.