Leissner: Najib on Jho Low’s list of people to be ‘paid off’

NEW YORK: Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was named as one of several officials listed by fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho as needing to be “paid off” for approval to raise and spend billions of dollars for state investment fund 1MDB, former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner told a US court this week.

On the list were officials from Malaysia and Abu Dhabi, Leissner testified, including Najib and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, reported Bloomberg.

Leissner, who is the star witness against his former colleague Roger Ng in the latter’s 1MDB corruption trial, told the jury that Low said “the Sheikh would not get out of bed for less than US$100mil (RM420mil).”

Sheikh Mansour hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing by the United States. The UAE government media office and UAE Foreign Ministry didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Leissner pleaded guilty in 2018.

Ng has pleaded not guilty to money laundering conspiracy and bribery charges, and his defence lawyers say he warned Goldman officials about doing business with Low.

The trial was interrupted Wednesday (Feb 23) by revelations that the government failed to turn over more than 15,500 documents related to Leissner.

The judge has said she will pause the trial before defence lawyers begin questioning Leissner, and Ng’s attorney has said he may ask for a mistrial, reported Bloomberg.

The meeting Leissner described while on the stand took place at Low’s home in Mayfair, London in 2012, not long before Goldman greenlighted work on 1MDB and raised US$1.75bil (RM7.35bil) for the fund, Leissner testified.

The project couldn’t move forward unless 1MDB secured an outside guarantor for the debt it was about to take on, he told the jury. He said Low, who held no official position at 1MDB but exerted outsize influence there, was able to get that guarantee from the sovereign wealth fund of Abu Dhabi and its subsidiaries.

At the meeting, Low took out a piece of paper and “started drawing boxes,” Leissner told the court. On one side of the page were several boxes for Malaysian officials who needed to be paid off, and on the other were boxes for the Abu Dhabi officials, he said.

Low said that at the top levels, payments to the Malaysia and Abu Dhabi sides of the criminal enterprise “had to be the same and be perceived to be the same,” Leissner testified.

“In my mind, that meant both sides had to get $100mil (RM420mil),” Leissner testified.

At the end of his presentation, Low said Leissner and Ng would also be “taken care of,” Leissner testified.

“I was of course happy that I was about to make some additional money,” he told the jurors.

“I wanted to make more money, even though I was well paid at Goldman Sachs.”