KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 4): Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had told his special officer and fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, aka Jho Low, to cut infrastructure deals involving rail and gas pipelines with China's state-owned enterprises to bail 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) out of its mounting debts, said a key witness in the 1MDB-Tanore trial today.

The projects included a proposed Bangkok-Kuala Lumpur high-speed rail, a petroleum pipeline from Port Klang to Kuala Kedah, the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), the Trans-Sabah Gas Pipeline, the Multi-Product Pipeline (MPP) and the development of federal territory Labuan into an offshore banking and tourism hub, Najib's former special officer Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin told the High Court.

The eighth prosecution witness, who once worked closely with the late chief private secretary Datuk Azlin Alias, said he was sent to China on a “secret mission” by his then-boss to convince the country to help pay 1MDB's debts.

In return, China's state-owned enterprises would be given several infrastructure projects in Malaysia.

Amhari described his appointment as a diplomatic representative of Najib in his capacity as Malaysia's Prime Minister, to verify investments to be made between Malaysian and China companies.

At the witness stand for the second day, Amhari described his mixed feelings on the "mission" to China.

"Although I respected Najib's directive, this is the most difficult moment in my job. I was worried over being involved directly in Najib and Low Taek Jho's plan to cover up on the loss of 1MDB funds and the repayment of the International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC) debts or the preparation of political funds.

"As the directive came directly from Najib, I did not dare to disagree with the directive," the 43-year-old told the court.

Amhari said he paid for the airfare to China using his own credit card and did not claim from the government.

However, Najib later reimbursed him for the fare.

"Once I was there, [only then] did I know that Jho Low would be present in this discussion. Also, the talking points that were to be discussed were given to me by Jho Low, and it seems these terms had already been discussed beforehand.

"The confidential instructions from Najib were made after the 1MDB fundraising issue was widely circulated. Najib directed me to China to represent him to confirm the economic relations of both countries including China-Malaysia investments.

"However, based on what Jho showed me through talking points and action plans, the deal and joint venture is an investment that will help repay 1MDB's bailout like 1MDB's debt repayment to IPIC," Amhari said.

Meeting with Chinese officials

Amhari said he went to China on June 28, 2016. Upon arrival he found out that Low was also involved in the discussions with the Chinese parties.

The duo's trips were to pave way for Najib's visit to the mainland five months later.

In November that year, Najib visited Beijing to sign an agreement between China Communications Construction Company and ECRL Sdn Bhd, and another between China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering Ltd with Suria Strategic Energy Resources Sdn Bhd (SSER), according to Amhari.

Najib's visit was to get two funding agreements — one was between China EXIM and ECRL, while the other was between China EXIM and SSER. Besides, the former prime minister was also to seal Renminbi-bond underwriting agreements between China and ECRL, as well as between China and SSER.

The witness added that only Najib and Low knew about his trip to China.

The talking points and action plan, Amhari said, showed that both Najib and Low planned to use the agreement with China's government-linked companies to bail 1MDB out.

"I could conclude from the discussions between Low and the China companies, was to get their help to purchase shares and bail out the 1MDB debts. During the meeting, Jho Low spoke in Mandarin while I talked on the talking points given to me earlier.

"I was to be the special envoy to the PM, I was asked to raise the profile of Malaysia and to enhance the economy. Secondly, Najib would offer China state-owned enterprises to be involved in infrastructure projects and this would help resolve the debt faced by 1MDB and its subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd. The words used are 'while simultaneously completely resolving 1MDB and SRC debts', [they] give the message that the relationship is to help bail out 1MDB and SRC debts," Amhari said.

Hence, the former aide to Najib said three projects that were offered to China are the development of Labuan island as a tourism and offshore banking hub, the petroleum pipe between Port Klang and Kuala Kedah, and the development of a high speed rail from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok.

Three other projects, namely the Trans-Sabah Gas Pipeline (TSGP), MPP and ECRL, were also offered.

Amhari said Low and Najib also asked Heng, who was known as Terence Geh, to attend a meeting with China's state-owned enterprise. Geh was the coordinator for 1MDB/SRC debt resolution program.

"Geh is required to coordinate the outcome of my visit to China and inform the progress of development of the program from time to time," he said.

Amhari also said 1MDB-related assets are sold in the form of shares of My City Ventures Sdn Bhd, 1MDB Energy Holdings Ltd and Brazen Sky Ltd.