Kuala Lumpur — The influence of fugitive Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, popularly known as Jho Low, on the daily life of former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak as well as those around him continues to unfold even as Mr Najib’s corruption trial continues.
Economist Datuk Amhari Efendi, a former special assistant to Mr Najib has been testifying for a few weeks now at the1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption trial. He said on Wednesday, September 18, that he had received money from Mr Low for trips carried out in an official capacity to London and New York.
This money, he said, was “pocket money,” according to the Malay Mail.
Mr Amhari added that Mr Low accompanied the former Prime Minister on those official trips overseas.
He was cross-examined by Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, the lead defense counsel.
Mr Shafee asked, “So you received money for both of these trips from Jho Low?”
To which Mr Amhari simply said, “Yes.”
When asked to specify how much he had gotten from the fugitive financier, the witness said he could not remember exactly, but that it was “maybe a few thousand dollars.”
Mr Shafee then asked Mr Amhari, “So you received the money from Jho Low and you also claimed back from the overseas trip?”
Mr Amhari again replied, “Yes.”
Around a fortnight ago, Mr Amhari said that he had also been given by Mr Low a US $200,000 (S$ 275,000) loan for buying a house in 2010 in Kota Damansara, a loan that the Malaysian financier had told him was “payable when able” and free from interest.
But Mr Amhari has also testified concerning Mr Low’s endeavours to hide his tracks that showed his involvement in the 1MDB scandal. On September 10 he told the High Court said that Mr Low actually prepared frequently asked questions (FAQ) regarding his involvement in 1MDB so that Mr Najib and other high officials would know what to answer when questioned.
Mr Amhari said these FAQs were given to both himself and to his former principal private secretary, Azlin Alias.
In essence, the FAQs said that Mr Low had no role in 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB). It also refutes the claim that Mr Low had been one of the advisors who was appointed by Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, the former King of Malaysia, to Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), which is the precursor to 1MDB, from January to May 2009.
“The FAQs served as underlying statements for relevant key individuals to say. It was also suggested for Najib to say this as well,” he told the High Court.
Mr Amhari was asked by defence counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah if he had a copy of this FAQ document, but the former special officer to Mr Najib said that he believed this was among the papers that had been seized by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
He added that Mr Low had asked for the document to be shredded.
Mr Najib faces 25 charges of money laundering and power abuse involving RM2.28 billion (approximately S$ 754 million) in 1MDB funds.
The former Prime Minister was charged under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act, punishable under Section 24(1) of the same law.
If he is convicted, he will face jail time of up to 20 years and a fine of up to five times the sum or value of the gratification or RM10,000 (approximately S$ 3,305), whichever is higher. -/TISG