Najib’s SRC trial heats up as defence insists witness linked to Jho Low despite denials

Ung Su Ling arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex July 17, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Ung Su Ling arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex July 17, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, July 17 — Tensions were high in court during Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s RM42 million SRC International trial today, after the prosecution witness persistently denied suggestions by the defence that she was following instructions of runaway financier Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, during her time in Yayasan Rakyat 1Malaysia (YR1M). 

YR1M’s former chief executive Ung Su Ling, the prosecution’s 49th witness, was bombarded by questions that carried an accusation tone of her being in cahoots with Low during the transfer of the RM42 million in question into Najib’s account, during cross examination by defence lawyer Harvinderjit Singh. 

Harvinderjit, who was scrutinising instant messaging transcripts between Ung and AmBank account relationship manager Joanna Yu, insisted the term “our friend” that popped up several times in the transcripts, was actually referring to Jho Low. 

Harvinderjit: We have the benefits of other chats of Joanna, and you will note throughout the transcript, there is reference made to a personality called “our friend”. Obviously “our friend” is someone known to both you and Joanna, agree?

Ung: “Our friend’ is a generic term, whose name you do not want to put in writing. 

Harvinderjit: Would you agree “our friend is Jho Low”?

Ung: Nope. 

Ung, when she was given the chance, explained that more often than not, the “our friend” reference made within the chats were referring to the late Datuk Azlin Alias, Najib’s ex-aide, saying it was him who was relaying the instructions to transfer the funds into Najib’s account.

To that Najib’s lawyer then insisted that instructions for the transfers of three payments of RM27million, RM5 million and RM10 million from Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd’s (IPSB) account into Najib’s personal bank accounts was given to Ung from Low and not Azlin, to which she denied yet again.

Yesteday, Ung when reading her witness statement yesterday, had said that all messages between her and Azlin were deleted after he had passed away in April 2015.

Harvinderjit: You never received instructions on transactions from Datuk Azlin, what you told the court is utter lies

Ung: I disagree.

Harvinderjit: Apart from the chats with Azlin, there is no other proof you took of your conversations with him.

Ung: Yes.

Harvinderjit: And these messages of the conversation between you and him were deleted.

Ung: After he died i deleted it.

Harvinderjit: Would you agree to the fact that you were asked to say Azlin (gave you instructions) because he is not around?

Ung: No, disagree. 

To that Harvinderjit this time accused Ung of naming Azlin as the proxy for the said transactions, simple because he had passed away and could no longer testify, saying she named him as he had a close relationship with Najib when he was alive. 

Harvinderjit: You didn’t want to disclose the relationship with you had with Jho Low, because you wanted to not have knowledge of the issue?

Ung: Disagree.

Harvinderjit: You blamed Azlin because you were told of the proximity between him and my client, you agree?

Ung: What do you mean? Jho Low and your client were also known to each other right. 

Harvinderjit: You were told to name Azlin. 

Ung: No, it was not what had happened, you might not want to believe it. 

Harvinderjit: But, you admit that you were in communication with Jho Low in 2014 and 2015?

Ung: Yes. 

Ung later admitted to Najib’s lead defence counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah that if she had stored the messages between her and Azlin, the truth over who actually gave the instructions to transfer the funds into Najib’s personal account would be established. 

As a qualified lawyer, she had also admitted that preservation of such pieces of evidence would be beneficial in such cases when the matter was hauled up to court, adding the messages were deleted as she had not suspected any wrongdoing in the transactions. 

Datuk Seri Najib Razak is seen at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex July 17, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Datuk Seri Najib Razak is seen at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex July 17, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

Shafee: You’re a lawyer, you deal with evidence.

Ung: Yes.

Shafee: Would you agree that preserving the evidence, making sure evidence is there, this is the training and backyard of lawyers, it is something we do as lawyers. 

Ung: Agree.

Shafee: These messages (between you and Azlin) without you deleting them, they can be preserved for the purpose of protecting yourself, for your own protection, where preserving these messages would be ideal and you would be able to tell it to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, you agree?

Ung: Yes, but I wanted to say that I didn’t think that there was anything that was wrong. If I had the slightest doubt them maybe I would have kept all that, as you said, there would be something to back up what I have told you today. 

Shafee: You’re saying, at the material point, after what had transpired, you had no inkling or suspicion that something was wrong?

Ung: Yes.

Yesterday, the YR1M former chief executive had said she gave IPSB’s chief executive Datuk Dr Shamsul Anwar Sulaiman the details of the recipient account and the amount to be transferred after it was provided for by Azlin. 

At the time of the transfers, Azlin and Najib both sat on YR1M’s board of trustees along with former 1MDB chairman Tan Sri Lodin Wok Kamarudin and special officer at the Prime Minister’s Office Datuk Wan Shihab Wan Ismail.

Ung had explained that the three fund transfers were said to be for corporate social responsibility purposes. 

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

* An previous version of this story contained an error which has since been corrected.