KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 17): The High Court here was told today that fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, had shown interest in the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) since the idea of its establishment was proposed in 2008.
Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin, who is a former special officer to Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, told the court this when showed the minutes of a cabinet meeting dated Dec 19, 2008 by Najib's lawyer, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, on the eighth day of the trial of the former prime minister’s case involving the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Amhari Efendi, 43, who is the eighth prosecution witness, said he knew about Jho Low's involvement in the TIA project since the early stage.
To a suggestion by Muhammad Shafee that the idea to set up TIA was mooted by then Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, Amhari Efendi said he was not aware of it, but knew that Jho Low was involved in TIA since the beginning of its proposal.
He said TIA, which was later known as 1MDB, was Najib’s “baby”.
Questioned by Muhammad Shafee what he meant by TIA project being “Najib’s baby”, he said it meant that TIA was important, born and inspired like the 1MDB project.
“At that time, in the context of Najib becoming a prime minister (PM), 'baby' referred to something that he wanted to do before becoming the PM, something very close to him, like 1MDB or policy … something important that he wanted to carry,” he added.
Muhammad Shafee: I say that you knew earlier that the TIA was not Najib’s baby, but an idea from the Sultan of Terengganu (Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin)
Amhari Efendi: I disagree.
When referred to the minutes of a Cabinet meeting dated Dec 12, 2008, Amhari Efendi confirmed that the proposed setting up of TIA, with initial funding of RM10 billion, was to generate economic growth in the state.
Also stated in the minutes of the meeting was the RM10 billion fund to be obtained from bond issuance in the local and overseas financial markets with a proposal for the federal government to provide a guarantee of RM5 billion based on part of future oil revenue to be earned by Terengganu.
Amhari Efendi said the minutes of the meeting also stated that the setting up of TIA was good and aimed at ensuring sufficient income for Terengganu in future, even when it had run out of oil and gas resources.
On March 5, 2009, Amhari Efendi said he attended a TIA meeting as a secretariat, but could not remember when he recorded the minutes of the meeting.
Najib, 66, is facing four charges of abusing his position to corruptly obtain RM2.3 billion of 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering related to the money.
The Pekan MP allegedly committed the four offences at AmIslamic Bank Berhad, Jalan Raja Chulan branch, Bukit Ceylon here between Feb 24, 2011, and Dec 19, 2014, and the 21 charges, between March 22 and Aug 30, 2013, at the same place.
The hearing is before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.
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