KUALA LUMPUR: Former 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) chief financial officer (CFO) Azmi Tahir denied that he had received bribes from Goldman Sachs to enable the latter to make significant profits from a US$1.75bil (RM7.35bil) bond issued in October 2012 by 1MDB Energy (Langat) Limited (1MELL).
Azmi, 49, said this on Thursday (Jan 27) when cross-examined by Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s counsel, Tania Scivetti, at the former prime minister’s trial over the misappropriation of RM2.3bil in funds from 1MDB.
The 12th prosecution witness disagreed with the counsel’s suggestion that his alleged failure to negotiate a lower interest rate for 1MELL had benefited the financial institution by enabling them to profit significantly from the higher interest rate charged, and also denied having taken bribes from Tim Leissner (the former banker of Goldman Sachs).
Scivetti: I put it to you, with your inaction to negotiate a better interest rate for 1MDB, that you, Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi and Mohd Hazem Abd Rahman, enabled Goldman Sachs to profit significantly from 1MDB, and in return for them to do so, Leissner and Goldman Sachs paid bribes to 1MDB officials which were you, Shahrol Azral, Mohd Hazem and others in the 1MDB management?
Azmi: I disagree. I don’t know about the rest, but I disagree.
Shahrol Azral was the CEO of 1MDB from 2009 to March 2013, while Mohd Hazem served as CEO until January 2015.
Scivetti: Surely, you would be aware from the news that Tim Leissner pleaded guilty to bribing 1MDB? Azmi replied "That’s why I say I don’t know about the rest, but for me, I disagree”.
Scivetti: The 1MDB officials that Leissner and Goldman Sachs officers pleaded guilty to bribing were in fact, you, Shahrol Azral and Mohd Hazem?
Azmi answered "No, I disagree”.
The witness also denied that he had conspired with Leissner, fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, as well as top officials of 1MDB in connection of US$790mil (RM3.3bil) transfers from 1MELL to Aabar Investments PJS Ltd.
The witness also disagreed that he and the said individuals had conspired to manipulate and mislead 1MDB board of directors, as well as Najib, who was the shareholder at the material time over the US$790mil (RM3.32bil) transactions.
Scivetti: You know, 16 Goldman Sachs employees were charged over 1MDB scandal, but despite being a director of 1MELL and signing all the documents, you were not charged?
Scivetti: Shahrol Azral, you and Mohd Hazem were not charged. I put it to you that you were not charged because you provided evidence against Najib to which Azmi replied, "I’m not sure”.
Scivetti: I’m asking you.
Azmi: I disagree.
Najib is facing four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3bil from 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.
The trial before Justice Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues on March 14. - Bernama