KUALA LUMPUR: It was yet another thrilling day at the High Court here today when a group of “makcik” (aunties) turned up to support Datuk Seri Najib Razak only to hear insinuations that their hero had acted like a mob boss by relying on a “consigliere” in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal.
Apart from being introduced to words such as consigliere - which means a person who serves as an adviser or counsellor to the leader of a criminal organisation - the 10-odd housewives also heard another Italian word used in court.
This time a key witness who referred to the so-called henchman of Najib as a consigliere, was condemned by the former prime minister's lawyer as being nothing more than a “soprammobile” (expensive ornament).
The drama started when former 1MDB chief executive Datuk Shahrol Ibrahim Halmi kept saying that he never bothered to check whatever instructions that were relayed to him by Low Taek Jho @ Jho Low because he thought the latter was just passing on whatever had been given the green light by Najib.
This infuriated Najib's lawyer, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, and the veteran lawyer asked Shahrol if he had ever bothered to confirm things Low was saying with the accused.
"You keep saying Jho Low told you this and that but you never double checked anything with Najib. It looks like you were literally a postman.
"You were the CEO of 1MDB but you were totally dependent on Jho Low," he shot at the 49-year old, who previously testified that his last drawn basic salary at 1MDB was RM99,000 a month.
Shahrol, who was 1MDB CEO from 2009 to 2013, then went on to justify his trust in Low by saying that he never doubted the Penang-born businessman as he always thought Low represented Najib.
"I was confident Jho Low was representing the special shareholder of 1MDB which was Najib.
"The Italian word for it is consigliere..he was the special envoy of the PM (prime minister)," Shahrol said using the term made famous in The Godfather novel where fictional New York mafia boss Don Corleone never gets his hands dirty but orders things done through his consigliere.
After taking a moment to digest what the witness had just said, Shafee retorted:
"As a CEO you seem to be what the Italians say soprammobile...an expensive table ornament.
"A CEO who does nothing...a person just for decoration in the company."
However, Shahrol replied that he did not agree with how Shafee had described him.
As things were just getting heated up, Shahrol requested to be excused from attending the afternoon session as he was "feeling down and under the weather."
Shafee then ribbed the witness by informing the court that Shahrol was unwell even "after we moved the air con away from him."
Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah subsequently allowed Shahrol, who is the ninth prosecution witness, to be excused.
Earlier, Shahrol also touched on how 1MDB acquired its name.
He said it was Low who had proposed it when the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) was in the midst of being renamed after being taken over by the federal government.
Shahrol: Actually Jho Low wanted to use the Mubadala template. Mubadala Investment Co which is an Abu Dhabi state investment corporation. So we came up with Malaysian Development Bhd but Najib wanted to add 1Malaysia to it and it was subsequently called 1MDB
Najib 66, is accused of misappropriating RM2.28 billion of 1MDB funds, money laundering and abuse of power.
The trial continues on Monday.