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1MDB SET UP TO BENEFIT UMNO, EX-CEO TELLS COURT


6 JAN 2021


KUALA LUMPUR: Former 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) chief executive officer (CEO) Mohd Hazem Abd Rahman told the High Court today that 1MDB was set up for the benefit of UMNO.

The 47-year old witness who was testifying in the trial of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, involving the misappropriation of 1MDB funds, went on to say that he would not have joined the company if he knew that it was involved in illegal activities as it was against company law.

This (benefiting UMNO), he said, was conveyed to him by fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or better known as Jho Low.

"I heard it from Jho Low himself during a meeting at Shangri-La Hotel in Putrajaya just before I joined 1MDB as Chief Operating Officer (COO) (in 2012)," he said when cross-examined by Najib’s lead counsel, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

Mohd Hazem added that Najib's former principal private secretary late Datuk Azlin Alias was also present during the meeting.

Asked by Muhammad Shafee whether he had checked the validity of Jho Low's statement about 1MDB and UMNO, Mohd Hazem said Azlin was also there and heard it (what Jho Low said).

Muhammad Shafee: I cannot call Azlin nor examine him, as he has passed away (in a helicopter crash in April, 2015). That's why I have to ask you. You agree with me that on that day, you had not been absorbed as COO yet. More or less you were being interviewed in the meeting.

Mohd Hazem: Yes.

To another question, the 10th prosecution witness admitted that he was fully aware that 1MDB was a company fully owned by the government.

However, based on what Jho Low told him, he realised that the company was "politically-linked" in the sense that it would be used as a vehicle to raise funds for UMNO.

He said he would not have known that 1MDB was created for the benefit of UMNO if it was not informed by Jho Low.

"I would have probably known later from my friends," he added.

The witness also agreed with Muhammad Shafee’s suggestion that in hindsight, he saw money moving out of 1MDB.

Muhammad Shafee: You would never thought of it, not in your lifetime, that this money would one day be accused of being sent back for Najib's benefit.

Mohd Hazem : No (I did not).

Muhammad Shafee: Why didn't you expect this? Because this scheme is outlandish?

Mohd Hazem : Yes, I didn't expect this.

Muhammad Shafee: And if this (scheme) was communicated to you, you may not accept the appointment (in the company)?

Mohd Hazem : Yes.

Muhammad Shafee: Why wouldn't you accept the appointment if you knew?

Mohd Hazem: Like you said, it was outlandish the way the scheme was undertaken.

Najib, 67, is facing four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion from 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount. Trial before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues tomorrow. -Bernama