September 23, 2019

Goldman Was Picked as Adviser for 1MDB Precursor, Witness Says
(Bloomberg) -- Former Malaysian leader Najib Razak is facing the biggest set of charges yet in his second 1MDB trial, which is set to shed light on the troubled state fund’s billion-dollar bond deals and acquisitions.The current case centers around 25 charges, including accusations he received bribes linked to state support for $3 billion of 1MDB debt sales and allegations he accepted gratuity involving a $1 billion joint venture with PetroSaudi International Ltd. His lawyers have argued he was misled by others, including fugitive financier Jho Low. Najib has pleaded not guilty to all 42 charges he faces for his alleged role in 1MDB.Key DevelopmentsNajib’s first trial may conclude as soon as November as the judge is set to decide whether to call on the defense then or move on to delivering a verdictThe current witness is Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, former CEO at 1MDB and Terengganu Investment Authority, the fund that later became 1MDBGoldman Sachs Group Inc.’s lawyer is holding a watching brief at the trial, after Malaysia charged the bank’s current and former directors, including Vice Chairman Richard J. Gnodde and John Michael Evans, now president of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.Goldman was picked as adviser to 1MDB’s precursor (Sept. 23)The board of Terengganu Investment Authority, known as TIA, picked Goldman Sachs as an adviser in the creation of the fund that would become 1MDB, witness Shahrol said, citing minutes of a meeting in April 2009. The meeting was held up as they had to wait for Jho Low, without whom the discussion couldn’t continue given Low’s “important role,” he said.The U.S. bank later advised TIA to open an account at AmIslamic Bank Bhd., Shahrol said without giving a reason.Separately, TIA was helped in its early days by Utama Banking Group Bhd., indirectly controlled by then-Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, the witness said. Fugitive Casey Tang, who later joined 1MDB, worked at Utama Banking and aided TIA despite the fund having no credit line at the time, Shahrol said.Witness says Najib offered China projects for 1MDB help (Sept. 4)Witness Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin testified that the ex-premier offered projects to China in exchange for help resolving 1MDB’s debt.Fugitive financier Jho Low represented Najib in the meeting with China’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, or SASAC, said Amhari, a former aide to Najib. Low and Najib planned to use agreements with Chinese state-linked companies to bail out 1MDB’s debt, he said.Jho Low held “extraordinary powers” in Najib’s office (Sept. 3)Witness Amhari said Jho Low held outsize authority in government-to-government talks, 1MDB dealings and funding for the former premier. Amhari said he attended multiple meetings with Low and the late Azlin Alias, who was private secretary to Najib, at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur.The meetings discussed 1MDB matters including a shortlist for its board of directors and Terengganu Investment Authority, or TIA, the precursor to the troubled state fund. Amhari said he and Azlin would be quarantined for 30 minutes to an hour before meeting with Low, who was always late and in a rush. Low was the one to organize the sessions, and he would tell them that he had met with Najib who agreed to the instructions he gave them, the witness said.“Jho is Najib’s trusted person, which is why Najib did not need to attend the meetings,” Amhari said on the witness stand.In a session at his house, Low described how TIA would be modeled on Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Co. and invest overseas to earn returns for Malaysian economic and social projects, the witness said.Further ReadingNajib Offered Projects to China for 1MDB Help, Witness Says (2)How Malaysia’s 1MDB Scandal Shook the Financial World: QuickTakeThe Long List of Charges Against Najib as 1MDB Trial Kicks OffTo contact the reporter on this story: Hadi Azmi in Kuala Lumpur at klnews@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Yudith Ho at yho35@bloomberg.net, Chan Tien HinFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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