KUALA LUMPUR, August 15 — Former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) chairman Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz today denied that he was a close friend of the family of runaway broker Low Taek Jho, describing such allegations as “ridiculous”.
Testing as the 46th prosecution witness in the case of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak regarding RM 2.28 billion Malaysian Development Berhad (1MDB) funding, Zeti also denied Low’s claim that he had visited his home as governor in Bukit Tunku at the time. To “cook pasta”, Kuala Lumpur.
Najib’s chief defense attorney, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, suggested that she and her husband had close ties to Low, known today as Jho Low.
Shafe: Isn’t that right, because we’re going to bring evidence on this, and by then hopefully we’ll have Jho Low arrested, we can get direct evidence. Since Jho Low is a close friend of your husband and a close friend of the family, Jho Low had a habit of coming to your house on the weekends to cook pasta for his family.
Zeta: This is ridiculous and inconceivable, it never happened.
Earlier, Shafee had been asked if Zeti knew about Low, and she said she only knew of his existence but had no ties to him: “I know him, I have no relationship with him.”
Shafee claimed that Zeti had previously spoken to then-prime minister Najib about gifts from Low, but she denied the claim.
Shafee: Tan Sri, you remember one of the issues that you once met and discussed with the prime minister, and it came out of your mouth without being asked. And you said that Jho Low loved to give you expensive gifts and you said, ‘I accepted them but have since returned them’. Do you remember telling that to the prime minister?
Zeta: I haven’t received any gifts from anyone, including Jho Low.
When asked by Shafee if he had made such remarks to then-Prime Minister Najib, Zeti said, “I don’t remember any discussion about gifts.”
When asked if he remembers any discussion with then Prime Minister Najib regarding Low, Zeti replied, “I don’t remember talking about Jho Low.”
Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak appeared at the courthouse for the 1MDB case at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on August 15, 2023. ― Photograph: Sayuti Zainudin
He agreed with Shafee’s suggestion that, as BNM governor, his then residence in Bukit Tunku was not far from Najib’s private home on Jalan Langgak Duta.
Later, Shafee said there were times when Low had meetings with others at then Prime Minister Najib’s personal home on Jalan Langgak Duta, but Zeti said he was unaware of it.
Shafee suggested that Low used the reason he had to meet with Zeti to leave these meetings: “Every time that meeting happened, I tell you, he had to openly excuse me because he said I had to go and see it. Zeti, do you know about this because the prime minister told you this? ”
However, Zeti replied, “I am not aware of that.”
Zeti also disputed Shafee’s claim that Najib had mentioned this to her at a meeting.
Shafee claimed that Low was close to Zeti’s family through her husband, Datuk Tawfiq Ayman, and that Low and her husband were “business partners,” but Zeti replied, “Not true.”
Zeti confirmed that she and her husband are a joint graduate in the United States, as she is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and her husband the Wharton School of Business, which is part of the university.
Shafee suggested that Low used the claim of graduating from the same business school to get closer with her husband, but Zeti said, “That’s not true.”
Asked by Shafee, Zeti confirmed that she had not read and did not know Low’s claim to be a Wharton graduate in the past, and said that Low had only joined Wharton but was unaware that he had never graduated.
Najib’s 1MDB trial before Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues this afternoon, and Shafee is expected to continue cross-examining Zeti.
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