Crime & Courts

Jho Low the 'puppet master' who carried out Najib's orders, witness tells 1MDB trial

KUALA LUMPUR: Fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, was a "puppet master" who controlled and strategised the operations of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) senior investigating officer Nur Aida Arifin agreed with defence counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah that Low had his hands in the sovereign wealth fund, despite having no official appointment or position.

Under cross-examination by Shafee, Nur Aida, who was the 49th prosecution witness, said Low had strategised the operations of 1MDB.

Shafee: You said Low was active in strategising the operations of 1MDB. You mean like the chess game, a puppet master?

Nur Aida: Yes.

Shafee: I put it to you he was in control?

Nur Aida: Yes.

Nur Aida also agreed when Shafee suggested to her that in the early days of the establishment of the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), Low was appointed as adviser by the then Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin.

Established in 2009 as an entity owned by the Terengganu government, the TIA was later renamed 1MDB the same year.

Nur Aida disagreed when Shafee suggested to her that former 1MDB chief executive officer Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi had developed a habit of taking orders from Low.

He suggested this as the two had known each other for a long time.

Shafee said this as Shahrol had worked at Accenture Malaysia, where Low's company, Utama Banking Group, was once its client.

Shafee: I put it to you, seeing what happened in 1MDB, it looks like Shahrol has a habit of taking orders from Low.

Nur Aida: I disagree.

Shafee: Shahrol himself said in the court that all of his actions were based on orders from Low.

Nur Aida: I agree because Low's orders were from Najib. It is not a habit.

Najib, 70, 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.

Hearing before judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues.

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