KUALA LUMPUR (May 9): Datuk Seri Najib Razak, his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and their children had, at the invitation of Middle Eastern royalty, yachted on the waters of France, Greece and Italy while on family vacations together, his former aide told the High Court on Monday (May 9).
Besides Najib and his family, Sarawak-based businessman Tan Sri Bustari Yusuf and one of his children were also on one of the trips.
Najib's former special officer Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Shihab, who was testifying in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB)-Tanore trial, said he organised these trips. According to Wan Ahmad, fugitive financier Low Taek Jho (better known as Jho Low), who liaised with him, told him the invitation came from the royalty for the former prime minister and his family.
For the first trip, Wan Ahmad testified that Jho Low contacted him in August 2009, and it was the first time he communicated with Jho Low.
Wan Ahmad said Jho Low told him a Kuwaiti prince had invited Najib and family to holiday on the prince's yacht, the RM Elegance.
Wan Ahmad said he then made arrangements for the trip, which involved about 20 people, including Najib and Rosmah’s children Nor Ashman Razak and Nooryana Najwa, as well as Rosmah's son Riza Aziz.
Other participants of the entourage included accompanying officers, maid and household staff.
"As far as I know, no accommodation payment was charged [to Najib] during the holiday on the RM Elegance yacht because Najib and his family were on holiday at the invitation of the Kuwaiti prince," Wan Ahmad said.
The entourage boarded a government-owned plane from Kuala Lumpur to London, and later to Nice, France on Aug 15, 2009.
During the trip on RM Elegance, Najib and his entourage met with the Saudi prince, Prince Turki, and Tarek Obaid, both co-founders of PetroSaudi International (PSI). Tarek was also PSI's chief executive officer.
Wan Ahmad told the court that he was asked to take pictures of the entourage for keepsake, which he later emailed to Tarek Obaid. The pictures have been widely circulated over the Internet.
Wan Ahmad testified that Najib said he was invited to have tea with Prince Turki on another yacht nearby. During cross-examination by Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Wan Ahmad confirmed that the tea party was on the luxury yacht called Alfa Nero.
Najib and his family took a tendered boat to meet Prince Turki for tea. Wan Ahmad was waiting on the deck when his boss and family were invited into the yacht's living room.
"When I entered the living room, I saw that Jho Low was already among them. This means Jho Low was on the yacht before we arrived. I did not care about Jho Low's presence and took their photos as instructed by Najib as a memory of that meeting," he told the court.
For the second yacht vacation, Wan Ahmad said Najib and family were on the waters of Greece and Italy. The holiday voyage was on the Golden Odyssey at the invitation of a Saudi prince; however, Wan Ahmad could not recall the name of the prince.
For this trip, the entourage comprising Najib, Rosmah, their children, and accompanying officers boarded a government-owned plane from Kuala Lumpur to Athens, Greece on July 28, 2010.
Wan Ahmad did not elaborate on the payments made for this trip or the details of the vacation.
Three years later, Najib and his family were invited once again for a yacht holiday in the south of France. They were on board Topaz in 2013. The yacht was owned by Abu Dhabi Prince Sheikh Mansour.
Wan Ahmad confirmed during cross-examination that the Hollywood celebrity aboard the Topaz was Oscar winner Jamie Foxx and his family.
Wan Ahmad said he was informed by Jho Low that his "cousin" Eric Tan Kim Loong would contact him with the details of the trip. Tan, now known as Jho Low's associate, has been on the run since the 1MDB investigations started.
For the third trip, the entourage on July 4, 2013 flew from London to Nice on a government-owned plane.
Wan Ahmad said he received confirmation from Najib before making arrangements for the trip, which involved an entourage of 25 people.
In the 1MDB-Tanore trial, Najib is charged with four counts of abuse of power in enriching himself with RM2.3 billion of 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering of the same amount.
The trial continues on Tuesday.
The Edge is covering the trial live here.
Users of The Edge Markets app may tap here to access the live report.
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