Jho Low present at Najib’s home when opening AmBank accounts in 2011, says witness

Cheah Tek Kuang arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex July 17, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Cheah Tek Kuang arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex July 17, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, July 17 — Fugitive businessman Jho Low was present at Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s private residence at Jalan Langgak Duta when the latter met with an AmBank representative to open savings and current accounts in January 2011.

Former AmBank managing director Cheah Tek Kuang testified that he was taken in a car which was headed to Najib’s Langgak Duta residence to discuss the opening of the said accounts after a meeting was scheduled by Najib’s ex-aide Datuk Azlin Alias.

“Once I arrived at Datuk Seri Najib’s residence, I met with Mr Low Taek Jho who is also known as Jho Low whom I have previously met.

“I was then taken into the residence by Jho Low who then introduced me to Datuk Seri Najib and Jho Low also informed him that I was from AmBank.

“Datuk Seri Najib and I proceeded to the guest room while I saw Jho Low waiting at a different part of the residence,” he said in his witness statement here.

Cheah said he was provided with copies of the bank account and credit card opening forms by Joanna Yu Ging Ping, who was the relationship manager at AmBank.

“In early January 2011, she informed me Najib who was prime minister at that time had expressed an interest to open savings and current accounts with AmBank,” he said.

He also told the court that he walked Najib through the procedures to open the accounts and the need to follow the bank’s regulations.

“I also told him I was obligated to inform Bank Negara Malaysia on the opening of the said accounts as he was a politically-exposed person,” he said, referring to Najib.

Later he said then Bank Negara governor, Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Abdul Aziz was also subsequently informed of Najib opening the savings and current accounts with AmBank, and indicated that she has no objections for AmBank to do so.

Cheah said Zeti also reminded him that banking rules and regulations must be obeyed in the process of opening the accounts.

The entire meeting, according to Cheah only lasted around 20 minutes and he was driven home after the meeting at Najib’s residence concluded.

“I then gave the signed forms to Miss Joanna to proceed with the opening of the said accounts and credit card application for Najib,” he said, referring to Yu.

Following the account opening procedure, Najib subsequently opened a basic savings account 21100200904-801 on January 18, 2011 and a current account 2112022009-694 on January 13, 2011 at AmBank respectively.

Najib was also provided with two credit cards when he opened the current account — a Visa Platinum and a Mastercard Platinum.

During cross-examination by Najib’s lawyer Harvinderjit Singh, Cheah said the two credit cards were issued as part of a promotion package at that time.

Asked how he was acquainted with Low, Cheah said he met the businessman during a lunch meeting to get to know one another better as Low had several dealings with AmBank prior to meeting Najib.

In his witness statement, Cheah said AmBank began it’s involvement with 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) in 2009, when 1MDB became a corporate client of the bank and he became personally involved with Najib’s account towards the end of 2010.

Cheah also admitted that when he met Najib for the first time at the latter’s residence, Najib made known his intention to open the bank accounts as he would be receiving donations from Saudi Arabia.

Harvinderjit Najib told you (he want to open an account with AmBank) because he wants to receive donations?

Cheah: Uh huh.

Harvinderjit: This account was to facilitate the donations?

Cheah: Uh yea.

Cheah is the prosecution’s 50th witness in Najib’s ongoing trial on alleged abuse of position, money-laundering and criminal breach of trust over RM42 million of funds from SRC International Sdn Bhd, a former subsidiary of 1MDB.

The hearing before High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali resumes tomorrow morning.