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Hazem: No evidence of Umno and Najib benefitting from 1MDB seen when I was CEO

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 15): Former 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) CEO Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman (pictured) testified today that while he was told that 1MDB was used to fund Umno, during his tenure, he had seen no such evidence of money from the government investment fund benefitting Umno or former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak.

Testifying in the 1MDB-Tanore trial today, Hazem was subject to questioning from defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who had asked him about Umno and its former party president, Najib.

Shafee: In the two years you were in 1MDB, did you see Najib benefit from 1MDB?

Hazem: No.

Shafee: What about Umno? Did you see them benefit financially from 1MDB?

Hazem conceded to Shafee by saying “No”.

However, Hazem had previously testified that Najib’s private secretary, the late Datuk Azlin Alias, and Low Taek Jho (Jho Low) told him that the investment fund was set up to raise money for the ex-prime minister and his political party Umno.

Hazem, who is the tenth prosecution witness in Najib's abuse of power and money laundering trial, had previously testified that he had had a meeting with Azlin and Low, the purported master conspirator. The former CEO said that from the meeting, he was made to understand that all approvals need consent from Low before any execution, if he wanted to work in 1MDB.

He also was told that “1MDB was formed to help Umno through businesses, in which it would invest”.

“Jho Low informed me that 1MDB is a company controlled by Najib and the company is to act on the then PM's whims. Any decision must receive his (Najib's) approval and final say from him,” Hazem told the court last year.

He met Azlin and Low at the then Putrajaya Shangri-La Hotel when applying for the job in July 2012. The witness said he had known Azlin since they worked together in the investment banking industry.

Hazem joined 1MDB as its chief operating officer in 2012, before becoming the CEO in March 2013 until early 2015.

In the 1MDB-Tanore trial in the High Court, Najib is facing four counts of abuse of power for using his position as the then prime minister, finance minister and 1MDB board of advisers' chairman to receive gratification worth RM2.28 billion.

Najib also faces 21 counts of money laundering involving over RM4.3 billion.

The trial before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues tomorrow morning.

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