By Aathi Shankar
Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi continues to play “the innocent” in former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s trial involving 1Malaysia Development Board (1MDB).
Shahrol Azral claimed that he would have quit as the chief executive officer (CEO) if only he knew earlier that some USD700 million from the state wealth fund was transferred to Jho-Low linked Good Star Limited.
Shahrol Azral had previously claimed that he transferred the USD700 million to Good Star in September 2009 as part of 1MDB’s investment for a proposed joint-venture with PetroSaudi International (PSI).
The “innocent” former 1MDB CEO had transferred the money without consulting anyone, including 1MDB’s board of directors and its panel of advisors.
He had also failed to table any due diligence for the board’s perusal before hastily transferring the money.
Now he claims “innocence” during the defence cross-examination before the Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah on Tuesday, October 29, 2019.
Shahrol Azral claimed that he would have even quit if he only knew earlier that Good Star belonged to fugitive businessman Jho Low, whose real name is Low Taek Jho.
Testifying during the 26th hearing of the trial, he claimed that Jho Low and former 1MDB executive director Tang Keng Chee or Casey had shown him a sham document to dupe him to believe Good Star was a wholly-owned subsidiary of PSI.
Jho Low’s associate Seet Li Lin had signed an agreement on behalf of Good Star with 1MDB for the USD700 million transfer.
Singaporean Seet was Jho Low’s classmate in Wharton Business School.
He had reportedly worked in Jho Low’s company, Jynwel Capital, from November 2012 to April 2017.
When questioned on this, the “innocent” Shahrol Azral claimed that he never knew Seet was also Jho Low’s business partner.
The ex-1MDB CEO claimed that he was turned off when the US Department of Justice’s (DoJ) accused him of being involved in transferring the money to Jho Low-linked Good Star.
DoJ filed a civil lawsuit in July 2016 to forfeit various properties, artworks, jewellery and rights to two Hollywood movies, claiming that they were linked to stolen 1MDB money.
DoJ named Shahrol Azral as “1MDB Officer 2” while Casey Tang as “1MDB Officer 1” in the lawsuit.
Najib, 66, currently faces 25 corruption charges – 4 charges of abusing his power 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.