Sultan Mizan Unhappy Over RM5B TIA Bond Issue, Says Former CEO

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KUALA LUMPUR, 24/09/2019. Former 1MDB chief executive officer, Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi (centre) at Kuala Lumpur Court Complex during the 1MDB trial. Pix by Malay Mail / Hari Anggara.

Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin was upset with the terms of the Terengganu Investment Authority’s RM5 billion bond issuance, Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi told the High Court today.

The former chief executive of TIA said the Terengganu Sultan had also ordered that the fundraising attempt be discontinued until new terms were set.

In March 2009, TIA (now 1MDB) picked AmInvestment Bank Berhad to lead the issue of the RM5 billion in Islamic medium-term notes (IMTN).

Testifying against Datuk Seri Najib Razak in the latter’s 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption trial, Shahrol said he and former TIA director Tan Sri Ismee Ismail had been summoned by the Terengganu palace over the matter.

“As soon as we arrive at Istana Terengganu, Tan Sri Ismee and I were brought to the meeting room and were followed by His Highness Tuanku Mizan and Her Highness Tengku Rahimah. His Highness then showed a resolution document that has been signed by Tengku Rahimah.

“To my memory, His Highness said ‘please sign this resolution, you can read it if you want.’ I was stunned and felt that something was wrong with His Highness Tuanku Mizan tone, which sounded angry.

“I look to Tan Sri Ismee and did not say anything. I was puzzled why was His Highness Tuanku Mizan was angry and asked me to sign the resolution,’’ he said.

At the time, Sultan Mizan’s sister, Tengku Rahimah Almarhum Sultan Mahmud, had been one of TIA’s directors.

She had been appointed as the fund was then a fully-owned subsidiary of Terengganu’s Mentri Besar Incorporated.

Shahrol also recalled that Sultan Mizan had used the term “unsavoury character” during the meeting however had no knowledge of who he meant.

Following the meeting with Sultan Mizan, Shahrol said he had met with Low and Najib at the latter’s house.

Senior deputy public prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram had asked Shahrol to explain how the former prime minister reacted to the Terengganu ruler’s unhappiness over the bond issuance.

Sri Ram: What was the atmosphere during the meeting at the accused house?

Shahrol: I would say it is neutral, I had kind of expected it to be all tense but it’s strangely neutral and I didn’t notice any visible consternation.

Explaining why he believed Najib and Low already discussed the matter before his arrival at Najib’s house, Shahrol said he had expected a lot more questions from Najib as finance minister, but said there were few questions from the latter.

Before adjourning their meet, Shahrol said that Najib had asked him to carry on with the IMTN bond issuance and simply stated “You go ahead, I will talk to Tuanku’’.MMO