1MDB was set up to raise money for Najib and Umno, says former CEO

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“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.” — former 1MDB CEO Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman.

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 14): Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s private secretary, the late Datuk Azlin Alias, and Jho Low told former 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) CEO Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman that the investment fund was set up to raise money for the ex-prime minister and his political party Umno.

“During the interview, Azlin introduced me to Jho Low, whom he described as an unofficial advisor to Najib. It was at the meeting that Jho Low informed me 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,” Mohd Hazem told the court. 

Mohd Hazem, 48, is the prosecution's 10th witness in Najib's abuse of power and money laundering trial today.  

The witness said that from the meeting, he was made to understand that all approvals need consent from Jho Low before any execution, if he wanted to work in 1MDB.

“Azlin further confirmed this. So I know that I had to comply with the PM's wishes and decision and that I need to report to Azlin and Jho Low,” he added.

He met Azlin and Jho 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.

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

Being the prime minister, Najib had the power to appoint the board of directors and other senior executives in 1MDB, Mohd Hazem said.

Throughout his testimony, Mohd Hazem testified that 1MDB was specifically formed to assist Umno and fund the political party through the injection of funds from foreign financial institutions in various 1MDB projects. However, the witness' statements were objected to by the defence led by Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed.

Mohd Hazem said there were a couple of times that he tried to object and reject Jho Low's suggestions, which he finds suspicious. 

"However, Azlin would come and console me and told me that whatever directions that came from Jho Low is Najib's directive and he (Najib) is my leader,” Mohd Hazem said.

Mohd Hazem said he had difficulties meeting Najib directly to verify some of the decisions, as he had to go through Jho Low and Azlin.

“He (Jho Low) is Najib's trusted person and whatever directions (which) came from him (Jho Low) is automatically from Najib,” Mohd Hazem said.

Mohd Hazem said he had once asked former 1MDB chairman Tan Sri Lodin Wok Kamaruddin to meet Najib and ask for some of the company’s foreign funds to be brought back home as at the end of 2014 to repay 1MDB’s Malayan Banking Bhd’s bridging loan.

According to Mohd Hazem today, the 1MDB board had no control of the company’s foreign funds and Najib did not allow the foreign funds to be brought back to Malaysia.

“Jho Low had reminded me then that Najib formed 1MDB to look after Umno's funds and this is one way of obtaining political funds from a company that is controlled by the PM himself,” Mohd Hazem said.

Mohd Hazem said Jho Low would communicate the plans which he formulated via email address [email protected] 

The trial before High Court Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues tomorrow.

Read also:

'Najib would sign shareholders' resolutions before DCR approved'

1MDB the 'biggest trap in Malaysia's corporate history', says former CEO Hazem

Najib hired media consultant to handle IPP backlash — ex-1MDB CEO

The Edge is covering the trial live here.

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Kathy Fong and Chong Jin Hun