Jho Low convinced Najib’s aides to open bank accounts in S’pore
KUALA LUMPUR: "Boss will take care" - these were the exact words used by fugitive financier Low Taek Jho to convince two aides of then Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to open bank accounts in foreign countries.
The accounts with BSI Bank in Singapore that he asked them to open were meant to be "standby accounts" for Najib's political funds for the 13th General Election, the High Court in Malaysia heard yesterday.
Najib, 66, is facing four charges of having used his position to obtain gratification totalling RM2.3 billion (S$759 million) from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) funds and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same money.
In 2012, Low sent Najib's former special officer Mr Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin and the late Mr Azlin Alias, who was Najib's principal private secretary, to Singapore, where he had arranged for them to set up the accounts.
It took Low, also known as Jho Low, several meetings to convince Mr Azlin to proceed with it, as the latter was uncomfortable with the arrangement.
Both Mr Azlin and Mr Amhari were afraid that the accounts under their names would be used for money laundering.
"Jho said that if there are to be any queries about the account, Najib will protect us," he said.
Mr Azlin became uncomfortable when Jho said everything will be done "above board" with the right processes and documentation and with a reputable bank, Mr Amhari told the High Court on the fourth day of the 1MDB trial before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah.
"Azlin told me that we have to follow his instructions or we might lose our jobs or our family might be harmed now that we know about the plan," Mr Amhari said.
Mr Amhari and Mr Azlin were not allowed to use the accounts as they were controlled by Low.
Najib also approved a plan to bail out 1MDB by offering stakes in several big infrastructure projects to Chinese firms in 2016. Mr Amhari said Najib sent him to China in June 2016 on a "secret mission" to reaffirm economic ties and investments between the two countries.
He said that among the deals offered were two pipeline projects and the US$20 billion (S$27.7 billion) East Coast Rail Link, a major part of China's Belt and Road initiative.
The pipeline projects were later cancelled and the cost of the railway project nearly halved to US$11 billion after Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad took over last year. - THE STAR