Najib's trial: Two banks involved in BNM's 2015 money-laundering probe

Bank Negara Malaysia officer Mohammad Nizam Yahya is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex April 16, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Bank Negara Malaysia officer Mohammad Nizam Yahya is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex April 16, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — The High Court was told in Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s first-ever trial that Bank Negara Malaysia had probed two major local banks under anti-money laundering laws in 2015 over the accounts of the former prime minister and companies linked to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Witnesses revealed that on the day Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) investigators had raided AmBank’s Jalan Raja Chulan branch for details on several accounts belonging to former 1MDB unit SRC International Sdn Bhd and Najib, they had also similarly requested banking details from Affin Bank for SRC International-linked company Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd.

Ihsan Perdana — which the attorney general had said was purportedly SRC International's corporate social responsibility partner — is alleged to be one of two companies where RM42 million of SRC International funds were claimed to have passed through before reaching Datuk Seri Najib Razak's private bank accounts at AmBank.

Second prosecution witness, BNM officer Azizul Adzani Abdul Ghafar had yesterday told the court that he led a raid at AmBank to obtain all documents — including on transactions — related to a list of bank accounts.

On the third day of Najib’s trial over alleged criminal breach of trust and money-laundering of RM42 million of SRC International funds, another witness testified regarding the multiple raids at the two local banks located along Jalan Raja Chulan on July 6, 2015.

Testifying as the third prosecution witness, BNM’s Financial Intelligence and Enforcement Unit analyst Mohammad Nizam Yahya today said he served a notice under Section 37(1) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act (Amla) to Affin Bank to get the documents.

“I was instructed by my department’s director Abd Rahman Abu Bakar to serve the AMLA notice to obtain banking documents on accounts owned by Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd.

“The serving took place at the bank’s headquarters along Jalan Raja Chulan on July 6,” he said when examined by deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Suhaimi Ibrahim.

Mohammad Nizam said Affin Bank Berhad’s chief legal officer and company secretary Nimma Safira Khalid had then provided the necessary documents requested on three bank accounts owned by Ihsan Perdana.

He then disclosed that he was handed documents such as the account opening forms; specimen signature forms; and statements of the accounts since they were opened.

Mohammad Nizam said he went with two other BNM officers to Affin Bank on July 6, 2015 from 10am until around 9pm, and had signed a form acknowledging his receiving of the banking details from Nimma at around 7.55pm the same day.

When asked what happened to the documents that were handed over, Muhammad Nizam said he kept them in a secure location at his department.

1MDB Special Task Force

Mohammad Nizam said several representatives from a special task force later came to make copies of the documents that Affin Bank provided to him.

When asked by Najib’s lawyer Harvinderjit Singh if he was informed prior to the serving of the notice that the investigations was for the taskforce, Mohammad Nizam replied: “As far as I know, the documents I had to take is for the taskforce.”

Harvinderjit then asked if the taskforce mentioned was the special team set up in July 2015 that comprised the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the police, BNM and the Attorney General’s Chamber.

Mohammad Nizam said he could not confirm whether it was the same taskforce.

The special task force on 1MDB was headed by then Attorney General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, then BNM governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz, then Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, and then MACC chief Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed.

The special task force had on July 4, 2015 said it had started investigations into 1MDB, and had said investigators had been sent the day prior to SRC International, its two subsidiaries Ihsan Perdana and Gandingan Mentari Sdn Bhd to raid and retrieve documents from their premises.

The special task force on 1MDB was however disbanded a month later when Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali replaced Abdul Gani as AG. Apandi was last year replaced by Tommy Thomas.