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I was told to sign US$1 bil deal with Caribbean [Cayman] company, says ex-1MDB CEO

By Ho Kit Yen From Free Malaysia Today

Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi says he relied on 1MBD executive director Tang Keng Chee.

KUALA LUMPUR: Former 1MDB chief executive officer Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi told the High Court today his management staff told him it was “okay” to sign the sovereign fund’s US$1 billion deal with a Caribbean company, purported to be a subsidiary company for Petro Saudi International.

Shahrol said that then 1MDB executive director Tang Keng Chee, commonly known as Casey, had informed him that the company registered in Cayman Island, Petro Saudi International (Cayman) or PSI Cayman, was Petro Saudi International’s subsidiary.

“Casey was the person in charge of the Petro Saudi joint venture and he worked with our lawyers from Wong and Partners on this. He indicated that there was nothing wrong,” he said.

Lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, representing Najib, raised concern over Shahrol’s conduct in taking advice from Tang.

Shafee: You seem to be dependent on Jho Low (fugitive financier Low Taek Jho) and Casey. You know that the Cayman company and Petro Saudi International are two different entities? Why listen to Casey when you had the board of directors to refer to or (you could) call your lawyers?

Shahrol: Casey was working with Wong and Partners, and he said it was okay to sign.

Shafee asked Shahrol whether he had ever raised doubts or signed an “expensive” deal with a different company.

Responding, Shahrol said: “Was it a silly decision? I could not have done differently because I still relied on Casey.”

Shahrol also said the 1MDB board of directors had a tight deadline to sign the joint venture with Petro Saudi International and that it was “challenging” to obtain the company’s profile and details of their business activities.

Shafee: Did Jho Low, whom Amhari (Najib’s former special officer Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin) called a master manipulator, manipulate the tight scenario for 1MDB?

Shahrol: The part that was clear to me is Low is like a conductor for an orchestra where he has different players playing their parts without each of them knowing what they are doing, in order to produce a certain result.

Najib is standing trial on 25 counts of money laundering and abuse of power charges over alleged 1MDB funds amounting to RM2.28 billion deposited in his AmBank accounts between February 2011 and December 2014.

The hearing before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues tomorrow.

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