KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 17 — A former CEO of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) today said he did not approach the prosecution after having been named in news reports as one of the individuals being sued by 1MDB in a multi-billion lawsuit, but confirmed that his name was later reported to have been removed from the lawsuit.
Mohd Hazem Abd Rahman said this while testifying as the 10th prosecution witness against former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in the latter’s criminal trial involving more than RM2 billion of 1MDB funds.
Najib’s lead defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah quizzed Hazem about the civil lawsuit filed by 1MDB.
In the lawsuit filed in May 2021, 1MDB and four of its subsidiaries had initially named 15 individuals reportedly claiming US$8 billion (RM33.9 billion) over various alleged wrongdoings such as negligence, fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent breach of duties, dishonest assistance, fraudulent misappropriation or unjust enrichment, with the 15 including Najib himself, 1MDB board members and 1MDB’s former senior management such as Hazem.
Under cross-examination by Shafee, Hazem said he had only read about the 1MDB lawsuit from news reports, but had not personally seen the lawsuit papers as he was not served with the court papers.
Shafee then showed the lawsuit papers in May 2021 to Hazem in court, where 1MDB and its four subsidiaries had listed 15 individuals including Najib and Hazem.
Hazem confirmed that he had never seen a copy of the lawsuit papers until today, agreeing that he had read the news about the 1MDB lawsuit which named him when he was already a witness in Najib’s 1MDB criminal trial.
Asked by Shafee what went through his head when he read of 1MDB suing him and others when he was a prosecution witness in the 1MDB trial, Hazem said he was just waiting for the lawsuit papers to be served on him and confirmed he did not approach the prosecution to ask why he was being sued despite being a trial witness.
Shafee: So you are saying you did not do anything, but you pursued in giving evidence until now.
Shafee: You did not do anything.
Shafee then produced an amended version of the 1MDB lawsuit papers or amended writ as filed in court, which now had removed several individuals including Hazem from the original list of 15 individuals being sued. (Local news outlet The Edge yesterday reported that the amended writ was filed on July 12 to remove seven of the initial 15 individuals named from the 1MDB lawsuit.)
Shafee: Did you also read in the newspapers, that in spite of you not doing anything, your name has been miraculously removed as a defendant within a month of being sued? Your name has been removed, you agree?
Hazem: I read the article, yes there was an article.
Hazem agreed with Shafee that others who were removed from the list of individuals being sued by 1MDB included senior management such as the ninth prosecution witness in the 1MDB trial —- former 1MDB CEO Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi —- and former 1MDB chief financial officer Azmi Tahir whom Shafee said will be an upcoming trial witness.
Shafee: You have no reason or you don’t know why your name or others have been removed?
When asked if he knew whether there have been representations made that witnesses should not be sued as their cooperation is needed in the 1MDB trial, Hazem said he was not aware.
Shafee: Now I’m putting to you that you in fact were very concerned, and I’m not naming any particular person, you actually approached the prosecution and said, this cannot go on, you are giving evidence in favour of prosecution and yet you were sued in a civil suit with such serious allegation, you in fact approached the prosecution and the MACC, I’m putting it to you.
Hazem: I disagree.
Shafee: And you were given assurance that your name would be removed.
Hazem: No, I disagree.
Hazem confirmed he was not happy when his name was included in the 1MDB lawsuit, and agreed with Shafee that he was very happy when his name was removed.
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