By Hidir Reduan Abdul Rashid | Malaysiakini
Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah disclosed today that he used to be partners with now detained 1MDB-linked fugitive Jasmine Loo in a law firm between 10 and 15 years ago.
The judge, however, said that Loo left the law firm Zain & Co between 10 and 15 years ago. This was during the time when Sequerah was still a lawyer and before he was elevated to the bench.
The judge made this disclosure during this afternoon’s RM2.28 billion 1MDB corruption trial of former Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
Sequerah (above) made the disclosure when the accused’s counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah asked the prosecution team whether they would be calling Loo to testify in the trial.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib informed the court that the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) has not seen any statement recorded by the Malaysian authorities from her, nor have any instruction on whether she would be a prosecution witness in the present 1MDB trial.
“Since the issue of Jasmine Loo was raised, it is appropriate at this juncture, I would disclose to parties that the same individual and myself were partners in a law firm when I was in practice. It was Zain & Co, a medium-sized firm.
“It was many years ago. Around 10 to 15 years back. I cannot remember. She had left (the law firm),” Sequerah said.
It is standard legal practice for a trial judge to disclose this sort of matter in the interest of transparency in the administration of justice.
After Sequerah’s disclosure, the trial resumed with Shafee resuming his cross-examination of 44th prosecution witness Kevin Michael Swampillai, a former banker with the defunct Singapore branch of BSI Bank.
During the course of the 1MDB trial that began in 2019, Najib’s defence team constantly contended that the accused had no knowledge of wrongdoing at the fund, and that embezzlement was perpetrated by fugitive businessperson Low Taek Jho (Jho Low) as well as by several of his alleged associates such as Loo and several members of the fund’s management.
On July 12, Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail revealed in a press conference that Loo surrendered herself to the Malaysian authorities, after having been at large for many years.
A day later through her lawyers from law firm AmerBON, the recently-arrested former 1MDB executive said that she wants to assist authorities in expediting asset recovery efforts related to the scandal.
Former Finance Minister Najib is facing four counts of abuse of power and 21 counts of money laundering involving RM2.28 billion from 1MDB, a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund fully owned by the Minister of Finance Incorporated (MOF Inc).
For the four abuse of power charges, the former Pekan MP is alleged to have committed the offences at AmIslamic Bank Bhd’s Jalan Raja Chulan branch in Bukit Ceylon, Kuala Lumpur, between Feb 24, 2011, and Dec 19, 2014.
On the 21 money laundering counts, the accused is purported to have committed the offences at the same bank between March 22, 2013, and Aug 30, 2013.