Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has appeared to publicly acknowledge that the Malaysian government was cheated by fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal.
According to a report by The Edge Markets, Najib had made this admission during a live interview on Malay language newspaper Sinar Harian’s Facebook page.
When asked whether Malaysia had been deceived by Low, Najib said: “If we take into account what we know today, then that’s the truth.”
According to a translation by The Edge Markets, Najib said action must be taken against Low if he is found guilty of criminal breach of trust. “If he had committed an offence, or a criminal breach of trust, then he has broken the law and so action must be taken against him,” he said.
But later, Najib took to Facebook to say that headlines about him admitting that Low “cheated” Malaysia did not tell the whole story, The Star reported.
“We know, it is very easy to get the wrong perception when we only read the headline,” he reportedly wrote.
Apart from Low, Najib also accused investment bank Goldman Sachs, lawyers and auditors of failing to safeguard the country’s interests in relation to 1MDB, reported The Edge Markets.
“We had appointed lawyers, auditors and Goldman Sachs, which is a leading global investment bank. The bank’s responsibility is to safeguard Malaysia’s interests. If they failed to safeguard Malaysia’s interests, how should I know?”
He added that the bank, lawyers and auditors involved in 1MDB should have informed the government that “something was not right”, and that they had all failed to play their roles.
On the former prime minister’s relationship with Low, Najib stressed that he did not know him personally.
In its report, The Star quoted him as saying: “I only knew later that he had a big yacht and an aeroplane, had parties – I was not involved, I did not know at all what he had done as we now know. My relationship with him was professional.”
The Edge also quoted him as saying: “What I know about Jho Low is that he started with the Terengganu Investment Authority as a special adviser upon being invited to serve them.
“Prior to 1MDB, he had a close relationship with Middle Eastern countries, especially the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and Saudi Arabia. He managed to bring in investments with the cooperation of related parties. For instance, the Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank investment in RHB Bank,” he said.
“I looked at him from that point of view … if we could use his relationship with those countries, we will be able to enhance our diplomatic and economic cooperation,” he added.
On Sept 20, Najib pleaded not guilty to 21 counts of money laundering and four counts of abuse of power involving the 1MDB fund of RM2.3 billion.