Najib's lawyer calls 1MDB ex-CEO 'table ornament' after he drops 'The Godfather' reference

Danial Dzulkifly
Shahrol said Low had always acted in the interest of the former prime minister. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 10 — Fugitive financier Low Taek Jho was seen as Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s “consigliere”, Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi told the High Court using the term popularised by The Godfather books and movies.

The Italian term is used to describe the advisor or counsellor to the heads of Mafia crime families.

Testifying against Najib in the latter’s 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) trial, Shahrol, who is the company’s former chief executive, said Low or Jho Low had always acted in the interest of the former prime minister.

Shahrol used the term when pressed by Najib’s lawyer, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, to say why Istana Negara was unhappy with Low misrepresenting himself as an adviser to Terengganu’s Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, who had been the royal patron for 1MDB’s predecessor, Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA).

Shafee: So, at the time in your mind, you thought that he was representing the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Datuk Seri Najib?

Shahrol: No, he was representing Datuk Seri Najib at the time. I think the Italian word for it is ‘consigliere’. He gets things done for the prime minister.

Shafee: You are flipping from Datuk Seri Najib to PM (prime minister)

Shahrol: He is representing Datuk Seri Najib as the prime minister, the minister of finance and the special shareholder.

Shafee: So, you thought that he was representing Najib and you believed him and trusted completely on what he said?

Shahrol: Yes.

However, Shahrol admitted under cross-examination that he never checked with Najib whether Low actually represented him.

Irked by the response, Shafee then suggested that Shahrol was simply a “soprammobile”, Italian for table ornament, while he had been 1MDB chief executive.

Shafee: So, as the CEO you are what the Italians call a ‘soprammobile’, a table ornament, nothing more. A person who is just a decoration, he doesn’t do any work, that’s what you are.Do you agree?

Shahrol: No, I don’t agree.

Shahrol is the ninth prosecution witness testifying against Datuk Seri Najib Razak, with today being Day 20 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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