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Jho Low working on a deal with govt in 2018, says ex-1MDB counsel Jasmine Loo

Publish date: Wed, 28 Feb 2024, 10:42 PM

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 28): Former 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) general counsel Jasmine Loo, who was away from Malaysia from 2018 until last year, said she was "moved" between countries in the region while waiting for fugitive Low Taek Jho (Jho Low) to negotiate a deal with the government of the day, the High Court heard on Wednesday.

Testifying in the ongoing 1MDB-Tanore trial on Wednesday, Loo said she was in Thailand in April to September 2018 - the year Datuk Seri Najib Razak-led Barisan Nasional fell out of power in the general election.

Loo was later "moved" to neighbouring Cambodia, the court heard. She was also in China and Myanmar while on the run previously.

Jho Low had warned Loo not to "spoil" his negotiation plans and she feared there would be consequences if she went against him, the prosecution witness added.

Lead defence counsel Tan Sri Mohammad Shafee Abdullah asked, "Moved? Who moved you?"

"Jho Low warned me, he asked me not to spoil his plans, in the sense that he was negotiating with the then new government because something was happening in Thailand which he did not explain. I felt if I didn't follow his instruction, there would be consequences," Loo replied.

Shafee: You could have chosen to return to Malaysia.

Loo: I didn't see how I could return to Malaysia.

On that, Loo referred, for the second time at the stand, to the Xavier Justo case in Thailand where the Swiss national spent 18 months in Thai prison for trying to blackmail Petrosaudi over stolen documents in 2015.

Shafee countered that Justo had actively laid out documents and was to some degree "extorting money".

He asked if Jasmine was doing something similar. To this, Jasmine said if she was to return to testify, she would be subject to investigations.

Shafee: [How many times did you went to these countries] when you were at large? Not when you were visiting as a tourist. Which part of China?

Loo: I was in Hainan. Then I moved to Shenzhen.

The 50-year-old also testified earlier on Wednesday that she was in direct contact with Jho Low while abroad.

Previously, she testified that Jho Low had threatened to make life difficult if she was to return to Malaysia.

When asked if she felt that she had done anything wrong, Loo replied in the negative.

Shafee: Did you lodge a police report that you were under threat?

Loo: I was overseas at that time.

Shafee: So what? You know we have embassies.

Loo: As I said before, I felt I was under threat and didn't want to [contradict Jho Low's instructions].

Asked if she has lodged a report following her return to Malaysia. Loo said she has not done so.

Shafee: Ah, I've just reminded you. So will you lodge a report on Jho Low?

Loo: I have to take advice [from my legal counsels].

Loo returned to Malaysia in July last year. In September, the police said Loo had helped identify assets worth over RM93.2 million purchased using 1MDB monies. Loo is still being investigated by other agencies over 1MDB.

Loo also testified on Wednesday that she took instructions from Jho Low even when he did not have any official designation within the strategic development firm.

Shafee: Did you take instructions from Jho Low when you were in 1MDB?

Loo: Yes I did.

Shafee: And Jho Low is not part of 1MDB.

Loo: He does not have an official role at 1MDB.

Shafee: But you took instructions from him.

Loo: Yes.

Shafee: So did many others in the management of 1MDB. You may not agree that all took instructions, but many others [did].

Loo: Yes.

Loo testified that she believed that 1MDB money was swindled when she read the US Department of Justice (DOJ)'s report or claim in 2016.

Shafee: You are aware there are allegations against Jho Low (in the report).

Loo: Yes.

Shafee: You are aware there are allegations against you?

Loo: Yes.

Shafee: Are the allegations against Jho Low true?

Loo: I don't know whether the allegations are true. It's not for me to say whether it's true or not.

When asked, Loo said the allegations against her were not true. However, when asked if she lodged a report or filed a defamation suit against the DOJ, she said she had lawyers who were prepared to defend the forfeiture suit against her. The suits, she said, have since been settled.

Loo said she would try to reproduce the terms of the settlement, but she said that generally, everything was surrendered to the DOJ, which will return the assets to Malaysia.  

Shafee is expected to resume his cross-examination of Loo when the trial resumes on March 14.

In this trial, Najib faces four counts of abuse of power for using his position as then prime minister, finance minister and chairman of 1MDB’s board of advisers to receive gratifications worth RM2.27 billion. He also faces 21 money-laundering charges.

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