“They complained to daddy”, fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, known as Jho Low, allegedly told Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim after the former 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) chief executive officer reduced the company’s investment sum in PetroSaudi International (PSI), the High Court heard Thursday (Sept 26).
“Daddy” referred to Prince Turki bin Abdullah, son of then-Saudi Arabia monarch King Abdullah Abdulaziz Al Saud, who informed his father that PSI was unhappy about the reduced investment, said Shahrol.
Shahrol is the ninth prosecution witness in former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s corruption trial.
The court heard that PSI had originally asked for US$750mil (RM3.1bil) but the amount was later reduced to US$330mil (RM1.4bil) after 1MDB’s board of directors argued that the company did not have enough funds for its projects in Malaysia.
PSI co-founder Tarek Obaid had allegedly written to Najib on Feb 18,2011 to increase 1MDB’s investment in a joint venture between PSI and 1MDB by US$750mil, the court heard.
“At that time, the board of directors (of 1MDB) felt disappointed because the request was made directly to the shareholder of 1MDB, which was Najib, and this seemed like it was meant to force the hand of the board of directors to approve the increase in loan (investment),” Shahrol said.
“After a board of directors meeting on April 4,2011, I told Low that 1MDB did not have enough funds for its local projects, such as the Kuala Lumpur International Financial District (KLIFD) and Bandar Malaysia; and that it was unable to put in US$750mil into an energy project abroad,” he said.
He added that after further discussions with PSI, the amount was finally reduced to US$330mil.
The court heard that 1MDB had given the US$330mil to PSI in four tranches of – US$30mil, US$65mil, US$110 mil and US$125mil – from May to October 2011 through its Ambank and Deutsche Bank accounts.
“I was made to understand, by Low, that there was a discussion between Najib and King Abdullah on this issue,” he said, adding that as the US$330mil amount was agreed upon beforehand, he had no choice but to fulfil the payment on the agreed sum.
Shahrol told the court that he had planned to lower the investment amount meant for PSI as 1MDB was running out of funds.
Shahrol told the court that he had later reduced 1MDB’s investment amount in PSI from the agreed US$330mil to US$205mil.
“I had reduced the payment from US$330mil to US$205mil only on May 27,2011 based on feedback from Radhi (1MDB chief financial officer Radhi Mohamad) that 1MDB did not have enough funds to fulfil PSI’s request,” he said.
Najib, 66, faces 25 charges in total – four for abuse of power that allegedly brought him financial benefit to the tune of RM2.3bil; and 21 for money laundering involving the same amount of money.
He faces imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine of up to five times the sum or value of the gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, if found guilty.
The trial continues before High Court judge Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah.