By Aathi Shankar
Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi did not submit any due diligence report for the perusal of board of directors before the 1Malaysia Development Board (1MDB) established its joint venture project with Cayman-based company PetroSaudi International (PSI) in 2009.
The former 1MDB CEO testified at the 23rd day of the Najib-1MDB Trial that only oral due diligence was done on PSI during a special board of directors meeting on Sept 18, 2009.
He testified before Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge Colin Lawrence Sequerah on Wednesday, October 16, 2019, that he thought the due diligence report was not needed because the 1MDB-PSI deal was decided by the Saudi Arabian and Malaysian governments.
The 9th prosecution witness said the 1MDB-PetroSaudi USD1 billion cash “investment” was established through a personal relationship between then Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Saudi Arabia ruler, the late King Abdullah.
“What I had in mind was that this was a decision done by the prime minister as the special shareholder and involved national policy and investments,” said Shahrol Azral, 49, who admitted that it looked bad on him for failing to submit a due diligence report on PSI.
He decided to get the deal done by September 28, 2009 after fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho @ Jho Low informed him about a scheduled visit to Malaysia by the Saudi crown prince, who could witness the JV signing then.
Minutes of the board meeting tendered in court showed former 1MDB director Azlan Mohd Zainol and former chairman Che Lodin Wok Kamaruddin had raised questions on the identity of PSI.
“At that time, I believed that PSI was a trustworthy partner,” Shahrol Azral testified.
The deal was done by Shahrol Azral however, resulted in zero returns for 1MDB and USD700 million of 1MDB’s US$1 billion investment sum was diverted to Good Star Limited.
Strangely though Shahrol Azral claimed that he did not know Good Star was owned by Jho Low despite being in regular contacts with the fugitive businessman.
Najib, 66, currently faces 25 corruption charges – 4 charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion in the 1MDB fund and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.
The Pekan MP has been alleged to have committed the 4 charges of gaining gratifications at the AmIslamic Bank Berhad Branch, Jalan Raja Chulan, Bukit Ceylon in Kuala Lumpur between Feb 24,2011 and Dec 19,2014, and the 21 charges of money laundering between March 22,2013 and Aug 30,2013, at the same bank.