“Follow directions or leave” is 1MDB’s culture, says ex-CEO

By , in Nation on .

 KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 8 — Former 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) chief executive officer told the High Court today there is a culture in the sovereign wealth fund where you must “follow directions or make your way out of the company”.

This was revealed by the 10th prosecution witness, Mohd Hazem Abd Rahman, 47, during the cross-examination by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s lawyer, Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed in the former premier’s 1MDB trial.

Wan Aizuddin was questioning the witness on the email thread containing instructions from fugitive businessman, Low Taek Jho or Jho Low in relation to two power plants acquisition by 1MBD, namely Genting Sanyen and Tanjong Energy, which has been the centre of attention by the opposition in 2013.

According to the witness statement, Jho Low’s instructions was for 1MDB management team to add on answers to the acquisition-related questions posed by the opposition, to make it seem more convincing.


However, Mohd Hazem, in his statement said he did not dare to raise the truth from his point of view for fear that it would jeopardise his career in 1MDB.

Wan Aizuddin: Having said that you feared for your career in 1MDB, have you ever raised these concerns to Jho Low?

Mohd Hazem: Yes, in our BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) conversations.

Wan Aizuddin: Can you enlighten me, what exactly did you mean in your witness statement?

Mohd Hazem: Whatever personal view you have, the acquisition is rather expensive. Those were all the questions that were highlighted by the public particularly the opposition at that time. You have to follow, you have to give responses that will be acceptable to the public and not the reality of it.

Wan Aizuddin: How will your response jeopardise your career in 1MDB?

Mohd Hazem: I must follow along, if I give my own personal view, I will be regarded as not playing along with 1MDB. I’m afraid that it could jeopardise my career in 1MDB.

Mohd Hazem added he did not go against the instructions in the email because “Jho Low ran the company”.

The witness also agreed to Wan Aizuddin’s suggestion that despite his fears, he was still promoted to the 1MDB top position.

Mohd Hazem replied he was just highlighting the frustration that he needed to follow the instruction from Jho Low.

“This was the culture. Of course, no one said it, but if you work in any company, if you’re not happy with the boss, you quit,” said the witness.

Wan Aizuddin: Look at the email that Jho Low sent to you in 2013, he referred you as a boss. Is it normal for Jho Low to call you as a boss? 

To this, Mohd Hazem funnily replied: “Sometimes it is normal, even if you go mamak restaurant people will call you boss”.

On the instructions given by Jho Low, Mohd Hazem said he did not double-check the email directly with Najib as Jho Low was the only person who could verify the truthfulness of the content.

Najib, 67, is facing four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion from 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.

The trial before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues tomorrow.


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