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Prosecutor Sri Ram says 1MDB was run like ‘coffee shop’, blames it on Najib’s ‘alter ego’ Jho Low

Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court November 9, 2021. – Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 9 — State-owned investment company 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) was operated like a “Chinese coffee shop”, but this was due to Low Taek Jho who was the alleged alter ego of Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the High Court heard today.

Lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram reminded the defence lawyers that the prosecution’s 10th witness Mohd Hazem Abd Rahman is not the person on trial but Najib, who is accused of misappropriating more than RM2 billion of 1MDB’s funds.

Sri Ram urged them to ask the witness questions that were relevant.

At one point, judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah also asked Najib’s lawyer how questions to the prosecution witness regarding the initial public offering (IPO) or public listing of a company would be related to Najib’s defence in the 1MDB trial.

Replying to the judge, Najib’s lawyer Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed said he wanted to show “mismanagement” in 1MDB and questioned Mohd Hazem’s credibility as a witness since the latter had asserted that everything pointed to Najib’s fault.

Sri Ram then interjected.

“We agree for what it’s worth that the affairs of 1MDB were run along the lines of a Chinese coffee shop in Petaling Street, but the reason for that — we are advancing — is that these people acted on the directions of Jho Low who was the alter ego or mirror image of the accused, and both of them acted in concert.

“That is our case, so we are prepared to tolerate this line of questioning only because it is completely irrelevant to our case,” Sri Ram said when arguing that Najib’s lawyers were asking Mohd Hazem questions irrelevant to the case.

But Wan Aizuddin countered that it was the defence team’s job to present their arguments and claimed that Najib had been victimised by Low.

“As the prosecution has their case, we also have our case for defence. And our case is still along the line of what the prosecution is saying, there was mismanagement, negligence in terms of operations of 1MDB. But this was perpetrated by Jho Low’s victimisation of our client,” he replied.

The judge then told Najib’s lawyers to keep such questions to a minimum and move on after they have made their points.

He also said the defence should reserve their arguments for the submission stage, noting that Mohd Hazem did not know a lot of the matters being asked.

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