AmBank ‘purposely’ excluded Jho Low’s firms as bondholders, 1MDB trial told

Danial Dzulkifly
Former 1MDB CEO Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex October 9, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9 — The corruption trial of Datuk Seri Najib Razak today heard that public-listed AmBank Group deliberately withheld information that several companies linked to Low Taek Jho were bondholders to the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), the predecessor to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Former 1MDB chief executive Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi who had also been CEO of TIA recalled seeing a list of the Terengganu investment company’s bondholders provided by AmBank.

However, he said Aktis Capital Singapore Pte Ltd and Country Group — two companies linked to the flamboyant Low — were absent from the list even though they were secondary subscribers to the bonds even to Islamic medium-term notes (IMTN) raised by TIA through AmInvestment in March 2009. 

AmInvestment was also the lead arranger and facility agent for the fund-raising exercise.

Shahrol was then asked by Najib’s lead defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah if the move was deliberate.

Shafee: Is it fair to say that Ambank Group purposely hid this fact from the board?

Shahrol: Yes.

Shafee: Why do you think they hid this from the board?

Shahrol: I don’t know, I do not want to speculate on that.

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex October 9, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

Both Aktis Capital Singapore Pte Ltd and Country Group are linked to Low’s bond-flipping manoeuvre that sees them buying the IMTN bonds at a discount and then selling it at face value to other government institutions.

The bond flip had reportedly made an RM500 million profit for the fugitive financier.

Yesterday, Shafee also revealed in court that Country Group was even linked to Low’s father, Tan Sri Larry Low Hock Peng.

Shahrol is the ninth prosecution witness testifying against Najib, with today being Day 19 of the trial.

Najib’s ongoing 1MDB trial involves 25 criminal charges — four counts of abusing his position for his own financial benefit totalling almost RM2.3 billion allegedly originating from 1MDB and the resulting 21 counts of money-laundering.

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