KIALA LUMPUR: If an audit had been conducted on 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) in 2009, it would have revealed that USD$700 million (RM2.9 billion) was transferred into the account of fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho's company, the High Court heard today.
Former 1MDB chief executive officer (CEO) Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, 49, said the audit would have revealed that the funds were transferred into the account of Good Star Ltd which belonged to Low, also known as Jho Low.
Shahrol who was the ninth prosecution witness revealed this during examination in chief by lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram in the trial of Datuk Seri Najib Razak involving the misappropriation of RM2.3 billion 1MDB funds.
Sri Ram: What would an audit reveal at that point of time?
Shahrol: The audit would have revealed that we invested USD$1 billion in PetroSaudi International, but USD$300 million went into a joint venture with PetroSaudi (and 1MDB) while US$700 million was transferred into an account belonging to Good Star, which was at that time a company purportedly owned by Jho Low.
The witness earlier testified that Low had in 2009 told him that there was no need for an audit exercise to be conducted on 1MDB.
He said Low said this to him after he informed Low that the 1MDB management received a notification that the Minister of Finance Incorporated (MOF Inc) wanted to perform due diligence (reasonable steps taken to avoid commission of tort or offence) on the company.
He said this was following the transfer of shares from the Terengganu state government to MOF Inc.
Shahrol said Low then told him that an audit or due diligence by the Audit Department could present a political risk to Najib.
“I then sought further directions from Najib through Jho Low on what to do next, " he said.
Shahrol said he was later told that there was no need for a due diligence or audit exercise on 1MDB as the company had already appointed accounting firm Ernst &Young and would submit the audit reports to MOF Inc once it was ready.
To a question by Sri Ram, the witness said there was no adverse response from Najib when he sent Najib a letter that he wrote on Low’s advice, stating that there was no necessity for further audit to be conducted.
Sri Ram: What was the reason for the copy of the letter to be cc-ed to the Auditor-General?
Shahrol: I was instructed by Jho Low to inform the Auditor-General to ensure that the Auditor-General knows the decision by the Board of Advisors chaired by the PM (Prime Minister) and attended by the Treasury secretary-general saying that there is no audit required.
Sri Ram: After sending the letter, did you receive any adverse response from the accused (Najib) to challenge the content?
He also said that when he needed to see Najib, it was far more effective for him to reach Najib through Low.
He said it was easier for him to go through Low compared to Najib's then special officer Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin to get access to Najib.
Sri Ram: In order to access the accused, you had to go through Jho Low or officer Amhari. From your experience, which proved more effective?
Shahrol: Jho Low was far more effective.
Sri Ram: So you could get to the accused far more effectively through Jho Low?
Shahrol had earlier told the court that he had to go through Low or Amhari to reach Najib as he did not have direct access to Najib back in 2009.
Trial before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues.
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.