KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 3): Datuk Amhari Effendi Nazaruddin, the former special officer to Datuk Seri Najib Razak, told the court today that the former prime minister had frequently used fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho to give instructions to his special officers.
Amhari, 43, is the eighth prosecution witness and the first key witness to testify in the 1MDB-Tanore trial today. The trial enters its third day.
In his testimony, Amhari said Low, or better known as Jho Low, was recognised as the "unofficial adviser" to Najib. The businessman had personal access to the former prime minister, and would often contact his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.
"It was as if he was in the inner circle of Datuk Seri Najib and Datin Seri Rosmah," the witness said.
Amhari explained that Low knew Najib's stepson Riza Aziz since they were teenagers, and that at the time Rosmah has no qualms about the Penangite being close with the family.
Amhari described Low as having "kuasa luar biasa" (extraordinary powers), considering how he worked behind the scenes for Najib in international relations, government-to-government negotiations and 1MDB, and made political arrangements such as funding.
"He usually gets the nod from Datuk Seri Najib. Most times, I was informed by Najib that Jho Low's instructions have been agreed upon by him," said the witness.
Amhari told the court that there were frequent meetings involving Low, himself and Najib's principal private secretary, the late Datuk Seri Azlin Alias, at Prince Hotel Kuala Lumpur late at night.
The witness said Najib himself never instructed Amhari or Azlin to meet with Low. But Najib usually had Low to instruct the duo.
He told the court that each time the three met, Low would tell them he had just met with Najib, who had given instructions to carry out.
"Each time we meet, Jho will tell us that he has met Najib and he will tell us that he has been directed by him to implement and assist in the planning of follow-up actions. We had to carry out these directives because we didn't want to disobey orders and worry about our job position. Furthermore, Azlin was a loyalist and loyal to Najib.
"For me, I mostly followed Datuk Azlin's instructions as he is my director.
"Jho is Najib's trusted person, which is why Najib did not need to attend the meetings," Amhari said.
He added that in some of the meetings, the recommendations by Low would leave Azlin "surprised, raising his eyebrows", in particular on matters to speed up approval processes for financial matters.
"Certain times, I would smoke with Datuk Azlin without Jho Low's presence. He would raise his concerns. But after counter-checks with Najib, he will inform that Najib has confirmed the instructions. For example, the names of 1MDB board of directors that were shortlisted by Jho Low were approved by Najib," said Amhari.