KUALA LUMPUR: It took just one week for the owner of PetroSaudi International Ltd (PSI), Tarek Obaid, to steal 82 million Swiss Francs from a joint venture company (jv) which 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) had invested in.
The Saudi businessman had diverted the money, which was part of a US$500 million which 1MDB had pumped into the jv company for an investment in French energy company GDF Suez, into his own personal account before it was channeled to Low Taek Jho @ Jho Low’s company Good Star Ltd.
Documents which showed the money trail were produced in court today in the 1MDB trial involving former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Lead defence counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah questioned former 1MDB chief executive Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi at length about Obaid’s role in the scandal.
The documents included Obaid’s account statement which showed that 82 million Swiss Francs had been moved out of PSI’s account into the businessman’s personal account before it was channeled into Good Star’s account at RBS Coutts Bank.
Asked if he realised that the 82 million Swiss Francs was not going to GDF Suez, Shahrol acknowledged that he now knew that the money had been diverted to Good Star.
“I was not shown all this during the investigation stage,” he said when asked if the investigators had shown him the documents when he was called to give his statement prior to the 1MDB trial.
Shafee: These documents clearly show that Tarek Obaid was working with Jho Low.
Shahrol: I cannot draw that conclusion. All I can say is that 82 million Swiss Francs was transferred to Jho Low’s company.
Shafee: The investigators never asked you about what happened to the US$500 million which 1MDB gave to PSI?
Shahrol: We never went through the details. I was just shown very high level money trail which involved Good Star and other accounts.
Shahrol was also asked about a phone number in one of the documents shown to him and questioned if he knew who it belonged to.
Shafee: Do you know whose number this is?
Shahrol: It may be Tarek Obaid’s number, but I cannot confirm it. Why don’t you try to call...
Shafee: I doubt anybody will answer.
There were also some light moments in court earlier today when Shahrol complained that the court room was too cold and his hands were beginning to freeze.
He requested for the air conditioning to be turned down before joking that he would start wearing gloves from now on.
Later, when going through one of the documents shown to him, Shahrol drew Shafee’s attention to a US$17,000 expenditure incurred by Obaid and charged to PSI.
The US$17,000 was used as payment for Starbucks coffee.
“That is a lot of money for coffee,” lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram was heard saying in jest.
The trial before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues.