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Najib Abdul Razak’s defence team contended that alleged misgiving about Low Taek Jho’s role in 1MDB did not stop the sovereign wealth fund’s former CEO, Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman, from pocketing over RM2 million in bonus.
This contention was raised during the former prime minister’s RM2.28 billion 1MDB corruption trial before the High Court in Kuala Lumpur this afternoon.
Najib’s lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah was cross-examining Hazem, the 10th prosecution witness, on why he still accepted the compensation despite allegedly being aware of Low’s role in controlling 1MDB.
Jho Low is a fugitive businessperson still being sought by the authorities to assist the investigation into the 1MDB affair.
On Feb 8 this year, Hazem testified that Jho Low runs 1MDB, especially in areas of investment.
On Feb 15 this year, Hazem claimed that he went along with the alleged criminality at 1MDB as he feared snubbing Najib, who then was also finance minister and chairperson of the sovereign wealth fund’s board of advisors.
On that day, the witness had also testified that despite being fearful of snubbing Najib, he still went along and accepted RM2.725 million in bonus when he left 1MDB in 2015.
It is the prosecution’s contention that Low has been acting on behalf of Najib in the 1MDB affair.Former 1MDB CEO Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman
During the 1MDB trial today, Shafee questioned Hazem on why he still accepted the bonus despite the misgivings, whereby the fund’s assessment of the then CEO “exceeded expectations”.
The lawyer questioned Hazem as to why he still accepted the bonus and 1MDB’s performance assessment without feeling ashamed.
Shafee: The (1MDB assessment) committee recommended that you exceeded expectations. Do you feel this was correct and justified to receive the bonus?
Hazem: I do not know, they decided this.
Shafee: The company was going down the drain, did you not feel ashamed that you accepted this bonus?
Hazem: I disagree.
Shafee: You claimed that your pride was affected (by Jho Low allegedly running the company and reducing Hazem’s role as CEO). How do you receive this bonus without feeling ashamed?
Hazem: That was the decision of the board.
At this juncture, deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib objected to the defence’s line of questioning, contending that it had no relevance to the case.
Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah then directed Shafee to limit the line of questioning to whether Hazem was ashamed in receiving the bonus despite alleged misgivings about Low’s role in 1MDB.
Hazem then replied to Shafee that as the then 1MDB CEO, he was merely doing his job and that the salary and bonus were set by the company’s board.
The trial before Sequerah continues tomorrow.