1MDB money used to purchase land in Ayer Itam, court hears

 thestar.com.my  09/15/2020 17:03:00   NURBAITI HAMDAN

KUALA LUMPUR: A portion of a US$3bil (RM12.39bil) bond raised by 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) was used to buy land in Ayer Itam, Penang, as well as in Umnos political campaign during the 13th General Election in 2013, the High Court heard.

Former 1MDB CEO Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman, 48, said this was admitted by former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in a ceramah (campaign speech) where he said the land would be developed by 1MDB as an affordable housing project.

When asked by Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohamad Mustafa P. Kunyalam how the witness knew about the matter, Hazem said that he attended the ceramah.

This money was used in the middle of 2013 to buy Ayer Itam Estate Lands in Penang which roughly cost RM1bil, paying back the debts to Standard Chartered around RM2bil and also was used to pay other loan interests, he said here Tuesday (Sept 15).

He was reading from his 110-page witness statement at the 1MDB trial involving Najib who is accused of misappropriating RM2.28bil in 1MDBs funds.

The land purchase, however, was never discussed at the board of directors level, he said.

The witness said the money was never agreed to be used to pay off debt and should have been used for the Abu Dhabi-Malaysia Investment Company (Admic) joint venture as well as to fund the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) project.

From the US$3bil bond issued, only about US$2.7bil (RM11.15bil) was received by 1MDBs subsidiary, 1MDB Global Investment Ltd (1MDB GIL) after subtracting all management costs with Goldman Sachs and it (the money) was kept in a 1MDB GIL account in BSI Bank in Lugano, Switzerland," he said.

Najib, 67, is facing four charges of abusing his position to obtain gratification totalling RM2.28bil in 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same money.

The hearing before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues on Thursday (Sept 17).

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