The appointed prosecutor in the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak’s 1MDB trial says an elaborate charade was employed in which several characters played a part in the scandal but Najib’s role was pivotal and his objective was to enrich himself.
The prosecutor, Gopal Sri Ram said his team will prove to the High Court that Najib and his alter-ego fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low took steps to cover their tracks after the 1MDb scandal broke in early July 2015.
These were part of his opening statements at the 1MDB trial which kicked off today.
“The prosecution will prove that the accused by his words and conduct made it clear to 1MDB’s officers, its board and others that Jho Low was his alter ego. In truth, Jho Low was the accused’s mirror image,” Sri Ram said.
He called Jho Low an ‘important character in the charade’ and ‘the prosecution will establish facts which will give rise to an irresistible inference that Jho Low and the accused acted as one at all material times.”
On Najib’s role, the prosecutor says. “the accused, first in his capacity as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, and later as Prime Minister of Malaysia and Minister of Finance took several steps that led to part of 1MDB’s funds being channelled into his account through a circuitous route to prevent detection of its source.”
“The accused thereby used his position for gratification. In each of the phases, the accused acted as one with Jho Low.”
He said the prosecution will also produce evidence to show that the accused took active steps to evade justice. He interfered with the course of the investigation of this case which has come to be known as the 1MDB Scandal.
“He took active steps to effect a coverup of his criminal acts. The prosecution will rely on all this evidence to show that the accused had the requisite ‘mens rea’ (intention to commit crime) when the offences with which he is charged were committed,” he told High Court Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.
Sri Ram said Najib also caused amendments to be made to the articles of the company when the name was changed from Terengganu Investment Authority to 1Malaysia Development Bhd. The aim was to place himself in sole control of important matters concerning the business and affairs of the company.
He explained in detail how 1MDB made deals with dubious companies, one of them PetroSaudi Holdings (Cayman) Ltd, with the intent to make people believe it was the Abu Dhabi based Petro Saudi International.
Explaining how the money was diverted, he said it was done in phases. The first phase concerns the scenario of a so-called joint venture created by the accused (acting through Jho Low and one Tarik Obaid, a close associate of Jho Low).
“It was a false scenario of a joint venture between 1MDB and a company called PetroSaudi International Ltd or PSI. It was called Project Aria. ”
He then explained how, in the first phase, the scheme worked, and evidence will show the abnormality of the so-called joint venture which, after close scrutiny, will reveal to be a mere device to siphon 1MDB’s money for the accused’s benefit.
The second phase concerns the acquisition of assets of dubious value by 1MDB.
“The accused using his position and acting through his mirror image, Jho Low took positive steps and caused 1MDB to enter into two transactions as a result of which the accused obtained a sum of RM90,899,927.28 as gratification. This forms the subject matter of the second charge.
The third phase concerns another purported joint venture between 1MDB and Aabar in equal shares. The joint venture company was called ADMIC.
“This forms the subject matter of the third charge. The purpose of this alleged joint venture was to develop TRX or the Tun Razak Exchange in Kuala Lumpur. IPIC was to guarantee Aabar’s investment. The Ministry of Finance of which the accused was Minister guaranteed 1MDB’s investment by way of a letter of support. A loan of USD 3 billion was raised for this alleged purpose. Goldman Sachs acted as the arranger of the loan,” said Sri Ram.
He said on March 14, 2013 the accused signed a letter of support to raise a loan through the issue of bonds by 1MDB from the Bank of New York Mellon Group in the sum of USD 3 billion.
He says the third phase was all a sham.
The fourth phase concerns the purchase of the Aabar options by 1MDB. These are the options that were given to Aabar in 2012 as alleged part consideration for IPIC’s guarantee for the notes that raised USD 3.5 billion forming part of the second phase.
“The prosecution will also produce evidence to show that the accused took active steps to evade justice. He interfered with the course of investigation of this case which has come to be known as the 1MDB Scandal. He took active steps to effect a cover up of his criminal acts,” he said. -/TISG