Mr Sondakh advises Mr Najib on Indonesia.
He came into contact with Mr Najib when he was negotiating to sell a controlling interest in his telecommunications group, Excelcomindo Pratama, to Malaysia’s national telecommunications company Telekom Malaysia in 2004.
Flush with cash from the sale of his telecommunications group, Mr Sondakh, now 57, acquired hotels in Malaysia, including the Sheraton Imperial. The latter was owned by a financially troubled unit controlled by Telekom Malaysia’s parent company Khazanah Holdings, the country’s state-owned investment agency.
Since then, Mr Sondakh has emerged as an informal personal adviser to Mr Najib on matters related to Indonesia.
Mr Omar was Mr Najib’s aide when he was DPM.
The one-time special assistant to Mr Najib owns a business consultancy called Ethos & Co.
Mr Omar, who is 38 years old, also has links with Mr Sondakh.
The two struck up a relationship several years ago when Mr Omar was assigned by Mr Najib, then Deputy PM, to build a network in Indonesia, which was identified as a potential investment destination for Malaysian companies, particularly state-controlled enterprises.
Businessmen who know Mr Omar say that he is being tapped for strategic advice.
He is also said to be the architect of the Premier’s ‘1Malaysia’ slogan - a call for a more united Malaysia, which has become the central theme of Mr Najib’s first 100 days in office.
But Mr Omar, who graduated from Oxford, has been ensnared in a controversy in recent weeks after the board of the national oil corporation Petronas rebuffed a proposal by Mr Najib to appoint his young aide as a director.
Bankers and lawyers familiar with the situation say that the board of directors of Petronas opposed Mr Omar’s position because he failed to honour his scholarship agreement with the oil corporation after it financed his studies in Britain.
After graduating in the mid-1990s, he worked briefly in Petronas and another government-linked corporation before joining consultancy firm McKinsey.
He left it to set up Ethos in early 2002 with several friends, and two years later was appointed Mr Najib’s special officer in the DPM’s Office.
Mr Omar did not respond to requests for comment.
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