Jho Low’s idea to engage Goldman Sachs to advise 1MDB, court told

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KUALA LUMPUR: It was fugitive financier Low Taek Jho’s idea to engage American finance services company Goldman Sachs as the financial advisor for 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), the High Court heard.

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Former 1MDB CEO Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi testified that Low – better known as Jho Low – made the suggestion in early 2012.

The ninth witness in the 1MDB trial said this during the examination-in-chief conducted by lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram here on Monday (Sept 30).

He was referred to a copy of the minutes of a 1MDB meeting dated June 21,2012, and Shahrol confirmed that he had seen the document.

The special board of directors meeting was held at 1MDB’s office at Jalan Sultan Ismail, and Shahrol said former senior Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner was present at the meeting.

He added that he was informed that Goldman Sachs was chosen to be the advisor for 1MDB’s financial management as the firm had “in-depth knowledge” on the capital structure of 1MDB.

Sri Ram: Who suggested Goldman Sachs to be the advisor?

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Shahrol: It was Jho, in the beginning of 2012.

Last December, Malaysia filed criminal charges against three subsidiaries of Goldman Sachs over their handling of bonds totalling US$6.5bil (RM27.2bil) issued by 1MDB.

The Attorney General’s Chambers subsequently filed more criminal charges against 17 current and former directors of three Goldman Sachs subsidiaries under Section 367(1) and 179 of the Capital Markets and Services Act 2007.

This was the first time a country has filed criminal charges against the US investment banking giant itself.

It was reported that Goldman Sachs made US$600mil (RM2.5bil) in fees for handling the bonds related to 1MDB.

Former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak, 66, faces 25 charges in total – four for abuse of power that allegedly brought him financial benefit to the tune of RM2.3bil; and 21 for money laundering involving the same amount of money.

He faces up to 20 years in jail and a fine of up to five times the sum or value of the gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, if found guilty.

The trial continues before High Court judge Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah. -The Star

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