Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 29 -- The former chief executive officer of sovereign wealth fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi told the High Court today that 1MDB was a strategic vehicle for former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, and as an employee, he wanted to serve him well.
Shahrol Azral, 49, however, testified that he would resign from his post on the spot, should he be given the chance to be 1MDB CEO again.
Under cross-examination by lead counsel for the defence, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, the ninth witness for the prosecution said that if he had known the numerous lies of fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low and 1MDB executive director, Casey Tang, he would have voluntarily left his post.
“Back then, I could not possibly know how much of what was being told to me by Jho Low and Casey about the whole 1MDB-PetroSaudi International (PSI) joint venture, was the truth - including the diversion of US$700 million meant for the venture,” said Shahrol Azral.
Today's proceedings comprised the 28th day of trial against Najib, 66, who faces four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion from 1MDB funds, and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.
The High Court was also heard that the 1MDB board of directors (BOD) was not informed about the decision to split the US$1 billion meant for 1MDB-PSI joint venture (JV) into US$300 million and US$700 million, with the bigger portion eventually going to Good Star Ltd.
Previously, the court heard that US$700 million was diverted into the account of Good Star Ltd, a company that was initially represented as a PSI subsidiary but was revealed to be controlled by Jho Low.
Shahrol Azral said the BOD’s consent was not obtained before the split due to time constraints and the 'need to get things done'.
The witness also said Najib had advised the BOD of 1MDB that there was no need for second valuation of the PSI assets in its joint venture with 1MDB.
Shahrol Azral said he met Najib, who was the chairperson of 1MDB board of advisers, on Oct 16, 2009, to seek his advice on behalf of the board of directors.
“A second valuation could have proved to have more downside than upside to 1MDB,” he said when cross-examined by Muhammad Shafee.
Asked by the lawyer on why the details about PSI's assets had been concealed from the BOD, the witness replied, “It just did not come up".
Muhammad Shafee: So what does this mean That there was no second valuation
Shahrol Azral: It means a second valuation was not preferred. My take from this sentence was that Najib did not prefer this.
Muhammad Shafee: But did he (Najib) explicitly say he did not want you to make a second valuation
Shahrol Azral: No, he did not say that.
He testified that perhaps it was his mistake to have 'listened' to Najib in matters relating to the sovereign wealth fund.
The witness then was asked by Muhammad Shafee to produce any document stating that he owed a fiduciary duty to the chairman of the board of advisers (Najib).
Muhammad Shafee: Do you know that your fiduciary duty is only owed to 1MDB, as a company, not even to the shareholder This is the law.
Shahrol Azral: I do not know.
Muhammad Shafee: Can you show me any document stating that you owe a fiduciary duty to the chairman of the board of advisers
Shahrol Azral, however, was not able to produce the document.
Muhammad Shafee: ...because you don't understand the concept of company law, I put it to you that you have messed up your line of authority.
Shahrol Azral: Perhaps I was wrong in considering that I should listen to Datuk Seri Najib on all matters on 1MDB.
The hearing before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues tomorrow.