By Aathi Shankar
Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi was caught lying in court today when he contradicted his own witness statement (WS) on the presence of Jho Low during a meeting with Datuk Seri Najib Razak 10 years ago.
Previously, when reading out his WS, the 9th prosecution witness told the Najib-1MDB Trial that Jho Low attended the meeting held at Najib’s residence in Jalan Langgak Duta, Kuala Lumpur at 8 pm on May 22, 2009.
Shahrol, 1Malaysia Development Board’s (1MDB) ex-chief executive officer (CEO), had even claimed that Najib and the fugitive businessman, whose real name is Low Taek Jho, did not speak to each other throughout the meeting.
But today, Wednesday, October 9, 2019, he claimed before Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah that he couldn’t recall on whether Jho Low attended the meeting.
“I’m not sure”, he replied during the cross-examination after the defence referred him to a WS by another imminent prosecution witness, Tan Sri Ismee Ismail, formerly 1MDB director and SRC International chairman.
Ismee has stated that only he, Shahrol and Najib were present at the meeting. Jho Low was not present.
Ismee’s WS was part of the prosecution case documents submitted to the defence at the start of the trial.
The meeting was held to discuss on that then Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin’s sudden command to the Terengganu Investment Authority Berhad to stop the issuance of the Islamic Medium Term Note (IMTN) bonds to secure a RM5 billion loan from Ambank.
Shahrol, then TIA CEO, testified today that Sultan Mizan did not want to proceed with the issuance of the IMTN bonds after learning that “Jho Low was an unsavoury character.”
However, in his WS, Shahrol stated that he did not know the reason behind the King’s sudden decision when asked by Najib during the meeting. Another contradiction.
Shahrol Azral’s contradicting testimonies may be caused by the prosecution desperate attempt to prove Jho Low was Najib’s “alter ego and mirror image”
The 49-year-old also revealed at the 19th day of the trial that a Jho Low-linked foreign company, Aktis Capital Singapore Ltd, benefited from the RM5 billion IMTN bonds.
It was estimated that Aktis Capital made some RM74.62 million by just purchasing and selling the IMTN bonds.
Shahrol Azral agreed that someone in AmBank could have been pulling the strings to sell 1MDB bonds at a discounted price to Aktis Capital.
1MDB only received RM4.3 billion for the issuance of the RM5 billion bonds.
According to an agreement document between AmBank and Aktis Capital as the bonds’ secondary subscriber, the bank only made some RM70,000 from its fees as a placement agency for the Singapore company.
Aktis Capital had made secondary subscription of 1MDB’s IMTN worth RM700m for only slightly above RM617m in May 2009.
This was done through AmBank Group, which was the primary subscriber of 1MDB bonds up to RM5 billion.
Aktis appointed AmBank as a placement agent, which had then helped the company dispose of the bonds at par value.
The difference in amount went to fees involved in the deal, including some RM70,000 which AmBank made as a placement agent for Aktis.
Shahrol Azral testified that AmBank Group had purposely hidden facts from 1MDB on Aktis Capital and another Jho Low-linked foreign company, Hong Kong-based Country Group Securities Pcl, being secondary subscribers of 1MDB bonds in 2009.
Country Group is controlled by Low’s father Tan Sri Larry Low Hock Peng.
Separately, Country Group bought and resold a portion of the IMTN bonds through Ambank at face value of around RM3.8 billion, to gain approximately RM420 million.
All this happened on the same day AmBank helped 1MDB to issue the RM5 billion bonds, according to documents shown by the defence in court.
Shahrol Azral said that 1MDB board of directors had in Oct 2009 summoned AmBank to explain why 1MDB had only received some RM4.3 billion for its RM5 billion IMTNs, instead of its face value.
He said that the presentation by AmBank to the board did not reveal about Aktis Capital and Country Group being 1MDB’s secondary board subscribers.
The board were only told that 1MDB bonds were subscribed by the Employment Provident Fund (EPF), Social Security Organisation (Socso) and insurance companies.