Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was alleged to have paid digital agency Orb Solutions RM2 million to handle his social media accounts and public image.According to multiple media reports including The Star, The Edge and Malay Mail, former CEO of Orb Solutions Noorhaina Hirawani Mohd Noor tesified during the first day of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) trial that the agency was formed to serve mainly one client – Najib – and manage his personal online communications and assets. These included his personal websites, social media accounts and activities that were deemed online-to-offline.She added that these assets were mainly for Najib to engage with members of the public “in a less formal manner” and explain public policies, amidst a time when the government back in 2008 were “quite cautious about online communications and social media” and such activities were never conducted from official channels, Malay Mail reported.According to The Star and Malay Mail, Noorhaina Hirawani was previously with Media Prima for eight years before being engaged by managing principal of Ethos Consulting, Omar Mustapha, “via personal connections” for digital communications services. Reports added that she was hired in 2008 after the Barisan Nasional coalition witnessed a “reduced victory” during the 2008 General Elections.As CEO of Orb solutions, Noorhaina Hirawani told the courts that she was responsible for managing the daily operations of the agency, planned Najib’s communications strategies and liaised with him and his office on those strategies. Noorhaina Hirawani was seconded to the Prime Minister’s Department for a period of time between 2013 until August 2014. The Star, The Edge and Malay Mail all reported that Noorhaina Hirawani received a monthly salary of RM24,000. Meanwhile, Najib’s special officer Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin was also co-director of Orb Solutions and its liaison with the Prime Minister’s Office.Orb Solutions was not the only agency that has come under scrutiny. Earlier this year, IPG Mediabrands and GroupM were among the companies and individuals named in the 41 civil forfeiture suits recently filed by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). The suits are to recover RM270 million which was reportedly misappropriated from 1MDB. IPG Mediabrands has since clarified that in 2013, the agency served as media consultants on a Chinese New Year campaign for the Prime Minister’s Nation Branding Division and worked with reputable media owners to execute it. Meanwhile, GroupM declined to comment on A+M‘s queries previously.More recently, Alibaba’s president John Michael Evans was also among the 17 current and former directors of three subsidiaries of Goldman Sachs facing criminal charges regarding 1MDB. Between March to September 2012, Evans was the director of Goldman Sachs Asia, during which Goldman Sachs was the bookrunner and arranger for the sale of US$1.75 billion by 1MDB Energy through to 2022.
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