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Najib's defence allege Shahrol part of conspiracy to cheat 1MDB in GDF Suez deal

KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 5): The defence in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd-Tanore (1MDB-Tanore) trial today alleged that prosecution witness Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi (pictured) helped to facilitate a scam to siphon money out of the defunct sovereign wealth fund.

Lead defence counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah lobbed this accusation at Shahrol, who is the ninth prosecution in the trial, while grilling him on a proposed investment by 1MDB into French energy company GDF Suez.

The lawyer brought up how businessman Low Taek Jho — better known as Jho Low — and former 1MDB chief investment officer Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, both currently missing, could produce meeting minutes involving discussions about the investment before the actual meeting minutes even took place.

"Nik Faisal already prepared the meeting minutes on July 21, 2010 before [the meeting took place on the same day], he must have a special talent in [being] able to know what is going to happen," said Shafee.

The witness replied that he was not able to guess how that happened, and suggested that the minutes were a result of earlier discussions.

"You were not present at the discussion, you were not aware who attended such a discussion," Shafee asked.

"So you are just guessing," Shafee said.

"Yes, the same way you guess Nik Faisal has a special talent," Shahrol replied.

Shafee argued that he was not guessing as his inference came from previous documents.

Shafee then suggested that Shahrol could be part of the conspiracy with Jho Low and Nik Faisal.

"You are, in what a Malay proverb says 'Cuba menegakkan benang yang basah' [defending the indefensible], you are part of this conspiracy and you put the Prime Minister to it and compromise your position," the lawyer said.

"I disagree," Shahrol said.

Shafee also said former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Naijb Razak alone was not able to perform the function of entire 1MDB board of advisers in advising the fund's directors about the GDF Suez investment.

Although Shahrol agreed, he explained that 1MDB board of directors were appointed by Najib as the fund's sole shareholder in his capacity as Prime Minister and Finance Minister.

"Legally speaking, we need to state specifically which position that DS Najib was in when we discuss with him, but at that time 1MDB board of directors' mindset was that 'Look, we need to get the advice from DS Najib'," Shahrol explained.

When a meeting that took place on July 5, 2010 between Najib — in his capacity as chairman of 1MDB's board of advisers — and Shahrol was brought up, Shafee pointed out that that meeting did not count as a meeting with the fund's board of advisers because 1MDB's memorandum and articles of association stipulated that the meeting with board of advisors require at least four members.

"You listen to Jho Low too much [and] you forgot your own M&A," Shafee said.

"No, I disagree," Shahrol said.

Najib currently faces four charges of abuse of power and 21 counts of money laundering in relation to billions of ringgit allegedly sourced from 1MDB.

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