By Aathi Shankar
PetroSaudi International (PSI) chief executive officer (CEO) Tarek Essam Obaid pocketed a commission of USD85mil (approximately RM290 million) for the joint venture (JV) between PSI and 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) in 2009.
This was revealed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court today, Wednesday, October 30, 2019, during the cross-examination of the corruption trial of Datuk Seri Najib Razak involving 1MDB.
The commission, which is more than the conventional 10%, was channelled to Tarek’s bank account from Good Star Ltd, a company that was owned by fugitive businessman Jho Low aka Low Taek Jho.
Jho Low was the sole signatory of Good Star’s bank accounts.
Prosecution witness No.9, Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, 49, has testified that on September 30, 2009, a total of US$1bil (RM3.487bil) was transferred by 1MDB into two separate accounts, with US$300mil into the JV account 1MDB-PSI and US$700mil into Good Star.
The fact that Tarek gulped the exorbitant sum from Good Star was revealed when lead defence counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah showed Shahrol Azral bank statements exposing the PSI CEO’s name.
The documents revealed that Tarek had received the money within 5 days after Shahrol Azral had transferred USD700 million (approximately RM2.38 billion) to Good Star in September 2009.
The bank documents also revealed that Tarek had subsequently paid another PSI officer Patrick Mahony USD33 million (about RM112 million) from his exorbitant commission sum.
Tarek also paid GBP100,000 to London-based White Case law firm, which was the legal firm handling the 1MDB-PSI JV.
Former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral concurred with Shafee’s suggestion that the hefty commission showed that Tarek had a personal interest in the JV.
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.
The trial is before presiding Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.