KUALA LUMPUR – The former Non-Executive Director of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Tan Sri Ismee Ismail told the High Court that he met Low Taek Jho or Jho Low at the Terengganu Palace in 2009.
Ismee said, 1MDB was known as the Terengganu Investment Authority Berhad (TIA) back then and it was set up to develop the economy of the state.
“The first acquaintance with Jho Low was during the Steering Committee Appointment Ceremony at the Terengganu Palace. Jho Low was already there when I reached and I introduced myself casually before the meeting started.
“I did not know on what capacity Jho Low was at the event, in my opinion, he was the advisor to Tuanku Mizan,” he said during the 1MDB proceeding involving Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
The former Prime Minister is facing 25 money-laundering and criminal breach of trust charges amounting to almost RM2.3 billion.
When defence counsel, Datuk Hariharan Tara Singh asked him about how close Jho Low was with the Terengganu Palace before High Court Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah, Ismee said that he was not sure.
“I won’t say that I saw Jho Low entering the kitchen and such. He only introduced himself casually and he was in the meeting room. That was all that I saw,” he said.
Meanwhile, the prosecution objected to several questions for Ismee that were already raised to the ninth witness, former Chief Executive Officer of 1MDB, Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi earlier.
The Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohamad Mustaffa Kunyalam argued that the questions for Ismee on the Islamic Medium Term Notes (IMTN) amounting to RM5 billion had already been presented to Shahrol Azral earlier.
Collin agreed with the objection and questioned Hariharan over his action while reminding him that the previous witness had been cross-examined on the matter, including the IMTN.
However, Hariharan said that he raised the question as Ismee was part of the TIA Board of Directors who allegedly opposed to the issuance of the IMTN.
“I asked these questions because he was a member of the Board of Directors. I may be asking the same question to other witnesses such as Tan Sri Bakke Salleh, who was also the former TIA Director in the future,” he explained.
Earlier, while Shahrol Azral was testifying for over a year in the trial, he revealed the problems faced by the Sultan of Terengganu, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, who was the then Yang di-Pertuan Agong in 2009.
Shahrol alleged that Sultan Mizan was angry with the plans of TIA on the issuance of the RM5 billion IMTN and ordered the Palace to stop the IMTN programme. However, the IMTN was published anyway.
In the end of 2009, TIA that was wholly owned by Menteri Besar Incorporated (MBI) was renamed as 1MDB and owned by the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MoF Inc).
Hariharan questioned the role of Shahrol Azral who continued with the issuance of IMTN despite receiving the objections from the Palace.
Back then, Mohamad Mustaffa objected and requested for the defence team to be fair to the witness.
“Shahrol had testified that the accused (Najib) gave the orders for the IMTN issuance to be carried out,” he said.
Hariharan then questioned Ismee if he agreed that it was merely an assumption that Najib wanted the issuance of IMTN to be continued.
“During your meeting with Shahrol and Najib at Langgak Duta, do you agree that you assumed that Najib wanted the IMTN to be continued?” Hariharan questioned.
Ismee agreed that he assumed that Najib wanted to carry on with the IMTN publication.
The proceeding was adjourned to next Monday. -MalaysiaGazette