1MDB trial: Najib’s lawyer suggests ex-aide perpetuated Jho Low’s misrepresentation by keeping quiet

Danial Dzulkifly
Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex September 18, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 ― Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s defence team suggested today that the former prime minister may have been misled on 1Malaysia Development Malaysia Berhad (1MDB) from early due to inattention from his own aides.

At the continuation of his corruption trial today, Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah went all out in interrogating prosecution witness Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin, suggesting the ex-PM’s one-time special officer had failed to alert his boss to Low Taek Jho's dubious character who allegedly represented himself as adviser to Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin who was at that time Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Shafee had last week revealed that a representative of Istana Negara had raised concerns in the second Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) meeting on June 30, 2009 about Low’s identity and role, as well as the palace's worries that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's name may have been misused.

Shafee: How can you represent the Prime Minister Office, you found a fact now in front of you that Jho Low was misrepresenting (Sultan Mizan) because a wakil Istana tells you in the meeting and you kept quiet. I'm putting it to you by keeping quiet, you perpetuated this misrepresentation.

Ambhari: I disagree.

Shafee: Did you put a memo about this?

Amhari:  No.

Shafee: What happens if you put it in writing, will there be problems within the PMO?

Amhari: No.

Shafee:  So you fail to put this in writing because you were protecting Jho Low?

Amhari: I disagree.

Shafee also suggested to Amhari that the latter's earlier reasoning for not being able to raise the concerns to Najib due to his supposed lack of access to his employer was merely an excuse.

Amhari then explained that he was merely a “junior officer” at the time and was merely following orders by Najib's then principal private secretary Datuk Seri Ab Aziz Kassim to attend the meeting and to report back to him.

Amhari however did explain that he had “verbally” informed Ab Aziz then about the concerns raised by Istana Negara.

“Don't go into this junior, senior. Maybe that is where the rot starts,” said Shafee.

Shafee had also asked Amhari whether TIA Chief Executive Officer then, Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi had, in writing, raised the concerns of Low's credibility to Najib after the June 30 meeting.

Shafee: So after the controversial meeting about TIA I just want to find out from you whether Shahrol had raised this matter to the prime minister that a wakil Istana had disputed Jho Low's role in representing the Istana?

Amhari: A quick look at the documents says no.

Shafee: So you don't find this strange?

Amhari:  No comment.

Shafee: So you don't find it strange that you don't report it, Shahrol don't report it?

Amhari: I say no comment because it was his prerogative as the CEO whether to report or not.

Hearing was suspended at 11.30am for Najib’s appointment with his eye doctor and is expected to resume at 2pm today.

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