CHINA OR NOT, NO WAY FOR NAJIB TO ESCAPE
Yeo Jiawei saw a distinct “upgrade of his lifestyle” from mid-2014, after he left BSI and went to work for Low Taek Jho and Mohamed Ahmed Badawy Al-Husseiny, two of the key players in the scandal that has engulfed 1Malaysia Development Berhad.
Jose Renato Carvalho Pinto, a relationship manager with Amicorp Group, made this claim when he took the stand on Monday afternoon as the seventh witness for the prosecution in Yeo’s trial for four counts of witness tampering. “He’s always travelling to Abu Dhabi, flying on private jets with Jho Low, and [sailing on the] yacht ‘Equanimity’,” said Pinto. “He changed his watch as well. His lifestyle definitely changed.”
With that change in lifestyle came a change in his behaviour. Pinto said Yeo began referring derisively to some individuals as “working level” people. Among them was Samuel Goh Sze-Wei, who had earlier testified to setting up a shell company to funnel illicit referral fees to Yeo and another former BSI employee. It also included Kelvin Ang, who has been charged with paying $3,000 to an analyst to speed up the preparation of a favourable valuation report. It even included Terence Geh, who was executive director of finance at 1MDB.
Many Aabars discovered
Yeo had engaged Amicorp to help with the administrative work related to setting up trusts, offshore entities, and bank accounts for BSI’s clients. In particular, Yeo impressed upon Pinto that Amicorp would be doing work for a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, and that transactions would include dealings with another sovereign wealth fund from the UAE. Pinto was also asked to set up various personal accounts for members of the Low family as well as for Tan.
Among other things, Pinto was told by Yeo to open a bank account for a Samoa-incorporated company called Aabar Investments PJS Limited, whose director was Husseiny. A US citizen, Husseiny was also the CEO of Aabar Investments PJS, a subsidiary of International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), which is owned by the Abu Dhabi government. He was reportedly arrested earlier this year.
Prosecutors say there are at least three other entities with identical or almost identical names: Aabar Investments PJS Limited, incorporated in the British Virgin Islands; and Aabar Investments PJS Limited, incorporated in Seychelles. In addition, there is another BVI company called Aabar International Investments PJS Limited. Husseiny is also listed as a director of these three “Aabars”.
In July, the US Department of Justice filed a civil complaint claiming, among other things, that the BVI-incorporated Aabar Investments PJS Limited had been used to divert US$1.367 billion in proceeds from two bond sales made by 1MDB.
While on the stand, Pinto also mentioned being asked by Yeo to process two invoices totalling more than US$1.2 million for 27 tickets to a boxing match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao that was held in May 2015. According to the invoices the tickets ranged in price from US$30,000 to US$75,000. However, the prosecution presented an image of a ticket to the boxing match extracted from Yeo’s mobile phone that indicated a price of only US$5,000. Other images extracted from Yeo’s phone included a selfie with former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson.
Communicating with Yeo
Pinto said that Yeo took care to “compartmentalise” his dealings with various parties. For example, he asked Pinto to blind carbon copy him on three different email accounts, each for work related to different people. There was firstname.lastname@example.org for projects relating to Low; email@example.com for Eric Tan; and firstname.lastname@example.org for Husseiny. Pinto also said that Yeo communicated with him via the Telegram app, and that Yeo often“destroyed” the messages between them.
According to Pinto, Yeo asked him in March to destroy his laptop and stay away from Singapore. He remembered when he received the message from Yeo because he was in Nagoya at the time, and his pregnant wife was undergoing an ultra-sound scan. Pinto said he was scolded by his wife as well as a nurse for trying the read and respond to the message from Yeo during the procedure. Pinto said he believed Yeo wanted him to get rid of his laptop for fear that the Commercial Affairs Department would get hold of it, and ask him to explain the significance of documents, emails, and other data contained within it.
The trial continues today, when Pinto will be cross-examined by Yeo’s lawyer, Philip Fong. Pinto’s former colleague at Amicorp, Mun Enci Aloysius, is expected to take the stand later this week.