KUALA LUMPUR: Former chief executive officer of state-owned sovereign wealth fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) yesterday said “1MDB was Datuk Seri Najib, Datuk Seri Najib was 1MDB”.
Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, 49, who was the ninth prosecution witness, told the High Court here yesterday that there was no difference in his mind between the entity and the former prime minister.
“Whatever Najib wanted done, I needed to get it done. At that time, I was trying to reconcile what the 1MDB board wanted and 1MDB board of advisors chairperson Najib wanted”, he said.
The witness said this when cross-examined by lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah on the 26th day of the former premier’s 1MDB trial.
He was explaining the rush in signing the deal between 1MDB and PetroSaudi International Ltd (PSI).
“It was important to set the context on why the decision on the PSI deal was done quickly and that I bulldozed everything through. I believed this was what Najib wanted,” he said.
The court also heard that the fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low was also advisor for PSI when the two companies (1MDB and PSI) were going into a joint-venture in September, 2009.
“Jho Low himself informed me about the matter. I did not see that as a conflict of interest albeit Jho Low was also advising 1MDB at the same time,” he said.
Muhammad Shafee: You owe a duty to the board as a collective body. Do you know what kind of duty is that?
Shahrol Azral: Fiduciary duty.
Muhammad Shafee: What is fiduciary duty? Do you understand the word?
Shahrol Azral: Financial duty.
“No! That is not what it means. Fiduciary is a duty to be transparent and honest and acting in the best interest of the board and the company. Obviously you didn’t understand the word,” said Muhammad Shafee.
Shahrol Azral: Well, I was honest and transparent.
Muhammad Shafee: Let the judge decide whether you were being honest or not. How can you not understand directors having fiduciary duty?
Shahrol Azral: Yes I do.
Muhammad Shafee: But you didn’t know what it means. I get that you don’t seem to care about your fiduciary duty to the board.
Shahrol Azral: I disagree.
Najib, 66, faces four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion from 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.
Hearing before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues with senior deputy public prosecutor and former Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram leading the prosecution. − Bernama