Jho Low, Not Najib, Was the 1MDB Puppet Master, Court Told

Although former Prime Minister Najib has been charged for abuse of power, MACC investigating officer Nur Aida Arifin tells defence counsel Shafee Abdullah that the fugitive financier Jho Low was the one with total control of the company

KUALA LUMPUR – Fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, was the ‘puppet master’ behind the operations of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), despite not holding any official position in the company, the High Court was told today.

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) senior investigating officer Nur Aida Arifin agreed with lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah that Low was the “puppet master” who strategised operations in the sovereign wealth fund.

The 49th prosecution witness was under cross-examination by Shafee, who represents former Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“You said Low was active in strategising the operations of 1MDB. You mean like a chess game? A puppet master?” asked Shafee, to which Aida replied “yes”.

Jho Low In Total Control

Shafee: Do you mean Jho Low had total control?

Aida: Yes.

During cross-examination by Shafee in Najib’s SRC International trial in 2019, former special officer Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin similarly agreed that Low was the puppet master.

She agreed to another suggestion that in the early days of the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), the entity that later became 1MDB, Low was appointed as an adviser by the then Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan, Mizan Zainal Abidin.

Aida, however, disagreed to Shafee’s suggestion that former 1MDB chief executive officer Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi had developed a habit of taking orders from Low as the two had known each other for a long time.

Shahrol had worked at Accenture Malaysia while Low’s company, Utama Banking Group (UBG), was a client of Accenture.

“Shahrol himself said in the court that all of his actions were based on orders from Low,” said Shafee.

Orders From Najib?

“That is correct because Low’s orders were from Najib. But it is not a habit,” replied Aida, to which Shafee again questioned her qualification of the statement.

Shafee had also queried on why Aida did not verify with the former PM during MACC questioning of Najib on those claims by Jho Low that his instructions about the arrangements in 1MDB were Najib’s instructions.

Shafee said that not even Shahrol or the other Board of Directors had clarified with Najib if what Jho Low had claimed (that he was representing Najib) was true.

Despite all these gaps in the investigations, Najib, 70, is on trial for 25 charges in total – four for abuse of power and 21 for money laundering.

The hearing resumes before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah tomorrow (May 28). – NMH

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Hasnah Rahman
Datin Hasnah is the co-founder and CEO of New Malaysia Herald based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. With an extensive background in mass communication and journalism, she works on building up New Malaysia Herald and it's partner sites. A tireless and passionate evangalist, she champions autism studies and support groups. Datin Hasnah is also the Editor in Chief of New Malaysia Herald.

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