KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 12): Low Taek Jho, the fugitive businessman better known as Jho Low, had attended a 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) board meeting 12 years ago and even took a call from then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak while at the meeting, the High Court was told today.
Kelvin Tan, who was 1MDB’s director of business development at that time, said he had taken the minutes of the board meeting held on Sept 26, 2009.
Testifying in the audit report tampering trial involving Najib and former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy, Tan said apart from the board members, Jho Low’s associate Casey Tang and himself were also in attendance.
The witness was then shown two separate sets of meeting minutes, one which he prepared that had the name of Jho Low in attendance and one which did not.
“I was not aware that there was another copy of the minutes which omitted Jho Low’s name until I was shown it by the MACC when they questioned me,” he said.
Tan also testified that 1MDB director Tan Sri Lodin Wok Kamaruddin had questioned why Jho Low was attending the meeting.
“I recall that he (Jho Low) said that he had a role [to play] with the board of advisers [in 1MDB] when he was questioned by Lodin… I was surprised he was there,” Tan said.
During cross-examination by Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, the witness recalled that during the meeting, Jho Low had also received a phone call from Najib.
He said Jho Low had then passed the phone to then 1MDB chairman Datuk Mohd Bakke Salleh, who he said seemed surprised that Najib was on the line.
Shafee had asked Tan to recall if Jho Low had done anything significant at the meeting.
Shafee: I have to push you a little bit on this. Jho Low must have said something [at the meeting] otherwise I don’t see why he would attend.
Tan: I recall that he got a call from Najib and he passed the phone to Bakke, and he was surprised that it was the prime minister on the phone.
Shafee: What made you remember him passing the phone?
Tan: It was the look of surprise on his face.
Former auditor-general Tan Sri Ambrin Buang previously testified in the trial that Jho Low’s name was not mentioned in the final 1MDB audit report undertaken by the National Audit Department (NAD) due to the omission of the fugitive businessman’s name in the board meeting minutes.
Ambrin testified that the 1MDB board meeting minutes given to him by the NAD from 2009 had no mention of Jho Low attending the meeting.
Upon questioning from Shafee, Ambrin agreed to Shafee's suggestion that Bakke had dropped Jho Low's name from the minutes because he was not officially on record at said meeting.
The 1MDB audit report was prepared by the NAD for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in 2016. It was reported that the amendments were made following the Feb 24 meeting attended by, among others, former chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Ali Hamsa, Ambrin, Najib’s former principal private secretary Tan Sri Shukry Salleh, and Arul Kanda.
The final 1MDB audit report was presented to the PAC on March 9, 2016.
Tan: 1MDB’s suit against me a mistake
At today’s hearing, Tan also testified that he is being sued by 1MDB, but said it was a mistake and there was no merit in the suit.
He said 1MDB alleged in the suit that he was negligent in his duties, which led to the fund accruing a loss of US$1 billion.
Shafee asked Tan for a copy of the writ of summons to ascertain its contents. The lawyer then informed the court that he would need to go through the document before he can proceed with further cross-examination of the witness.
The trial before Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan will continue on Sept 9.
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