Jasmine Loo Not Pursued For Charges, Has A Deal Been Struck?

Former 1MDB lawyer Jasmine Loo was first charged in absentia in December 2018 when she was accused of laundering US$5 million and US$999,975, being proceeds of unlawful activity received into the account of River Dee International SA (BVI) in Falcon Private Bank AG in Zurich, but to date the charges have yet to be pursued, giving rise to speculations about a possible deal with the authorities

KUALA LUMPUR — 1MDB former general counsel, Jasmine Loo Ai Swan, has yet to be charged for crimes committed under Section 179© of the Capital Markets and Services Act, giving rise to the speculation that she may have struck a deal with the prosecution to give evidence against former Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Jasmine Loo however reiterated today that she had not agreed to take the stand as a witness against Datuk Seri Najib Razak in exchange for ongoing criminal charges against her to be discontinued.

Loo, who is the 50th prosecution witness, said this under cross-examination in the High Court by Najib’s defence lawyer Tania Scivetti during Najib’s trial for misappropriation of RM2.27 billion in 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak's defence lawyers Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah (left) and Tania Scivetti (right) at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex April 4, 2024 where former 1MDB lawyer Jasmine Loo had taken the stand. — Malay Mail picture by Hari Anggara.
Datuk Seri Najib Razaks defence lawyers Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah left and Tania Scivetti right at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex April 4 2024 where former 1MDB lawyer Jasmine Loo had taken the stand Malay Mail picture by Hari Anggara

Scivetti had earlier suggested that the aforementioned charges were not being pursued against Loo as she had agreed to give evidence against Najib in favour of the prosecution.

“I am putting it to you that the charges preferred against you have not been pursued because you have agreed to give evidence against Najib in favour of the prosecution,” Scivetti suggested.

Jasmine Loo Met With Various Authorities

In reply, Loo disagreed with the suggestion but did point out she had met with various authorities over ongoing investigations upon her return to Malaysia in July last year.

When suggested the timing of her return was ‘suspicious’ and in order for her to secure a deal to escape prosecution, Loo said this was untrue.

When further asked if her being on the witness stand despite having met with authorities meant that charges have been officially withdrawn, Loo stressed that was not what she said.

On the stand on Thursday, Loo said that previously she had not been called to respond to the charges but has since responded to them. However, since her return to KL, she has responded to various authorities regarding the charges, including the Securities Commission Malaysia.

Scivetti: Officially, [the charges] have been withdrawn?

Loo: I’m not saying that.

Jasmine Loo Not On trial, Says Judge

As he has done several times previously, presiding judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah reminded the defence that Loo is not the one on trial.

“This case is not about her negligence as a lawyer or legal adviser, it’s about the charges, so can we focus on that,” he said in response to Scivetti’s line of questioning regarding the Tanjong Energy Holdings Sdn Bhd acquisition.

The defence lawyer was asking Loo about the US$577 million “security (non-refundable) deposit” Aabar’s holding company International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC) issued to guarantee the murabaha notes. The money went to Aabar Investments PJS Ltd (BVI) — the fake Aabar.

Criminal Scheme

Scivetti pushed back saying that this was an important point as it is part of the prosecution’s case that the additional funds from this particular series of transactions was a criminal scheme to misuse 1MDB funds.

On another note, Loo said she knew of former close associate and fugitive Low Taek Jho or Jho Low’s tendency to name-drop.

Scivetti had asked her that from her conversations with Jho Low, did she not realise that he is fond of making up stories and name dropping?

Name Dropper

Loo replied: Making up stories I don’t know, but name dropping yes.

Scivetti was asking about the purported meeting in Davos which Jho Low claimed that Najib was present, yet the PM’s aides, Wan Shihab and Datuk Amhari Effendi Nazaruddin had said he was not.

Loo said she believed Jho Low then because Tim Leissner (Goldman Sachs) had said Najib was present.

Previous witnesses like former central bank governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz and former AmBank relationship manager Joanna Yu have testified about Low’s tendency to name-drop, hinting at the latter’s close relationship with powerful and influential individuals.

Scivetti went back to Loo’s previous testimony where the witness claimed that at the material time she was unaware that 1MDB funds were funnelled to Najib’s account. She had said that she only knew of this following the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and subsequent media reports around 2015 and 2016.

Fake Aabar Account

Previously on the stand, Loo had testified that she was unaware that the security deposits amounting to RM576,943,490 and RM790,354,855 from the fake Aabar’s account entered Eric Tan Kim Loong’s Blackstone Asia Real Estate account. The funds were then deposited into an array of other accounts, including Najib’s.

On Thursday, when asked if Loo had ever seen Najib with Tan, who frequently acted as Jho Low’s proxy, the witness answered in the negative.

Scivetti: You’ve known Eric Tan since 2009?

Loo: Correct.

Scivetti: The DOJ and the media have identified you as one of the key players in the 1MDB scheme.

Loo: Ya, but that is unverified, and that is what they claim.

Scivetti: The media has also identified you as Jho Low’s close associate.

Loo: Yes, I don’t deny that.

Money Received In Good Faith

Loo, once again, reiterated that whatever money she received from entities linked to Jho Low, she received in “good faith” and didn’t know that they were funnelled from the strategic development company.

Scivetti: Are you saying that the allegations in the DOJ report were unfounded?

Loo: Yes.

Scivetti: You are also saying that what the media is saying about you is also not correct?

Loo: Not all correct.

Loo repeated that it was always her desire to return to Malaysia. The defence counsel then “puts” it again to the witness that the timing of her return was suspect.

Scivetti: The only reason you returned is that it was the right time to secure a deal with the authorities.

Loo: Not true.

Najib Had No Offshore Accounts

Former Prime Minister Najib Razak Was Alleged to Be the Mastermind of 1mdb, Yet He Does Not Have Any Offshore Accounts, Court Was Told on Wednesday - Nmh Filepic
Former Prime Minister Najib Razak was alleged to be the mastermind of 1MDB yet he does not have any offshore accounts court was told on Wednesday NMH filepic

Scivetti said Najib is alleged to be the mastermind of the 1MDB scam but was not involved in opening any of the various offshore accounts linked to 1MDB.

Loo said she can’t comment on that. The defence counsel then said Najib only had an account in Malaysia and believed that the monies he received were donations. To this, Loo again said she has no comment.

Loo also disagreed with the defence counsel that she colluded with Jho Low, former 1MDB chief executive officer Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi and others to remit money into the fake Aabar.

The trial will continue at 8.30am on Friday.

The judge wants the witness to be released from the stand on Friday, which means the defence would have to wrap up its cross-examination and the prosecution would also have to complete its re-examination of Loo.

Najib’s 1MDB trial before trial judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes Friday. – NMH

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