Witness: Najib’s bank account provided with special code name following Jho Low’s query to ensure confidentiality

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

KUALA LUMPUR, July 17 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s current account in Ambank was provided a special code name after fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho had requested for it to be dealt with the strictest confidence, a witness told the High Court today.

Former AmBank managing director Cheah Tek Kuang, said the “AmPrivate Banking-MR” code name was reserved for Najib’s current account (2112022009-694) when the former prime minister opened the said account on January 13, 2011.

“I was informed by Miss Joanna that the reason for the code name is based on a query made by Jho Low who had requested for the account to be dealt with the strictest confidence,” he said in his testimony here.

Earlier in court, Cheah had testified that Joanna Yu Ging Ping was an AmBank relationship manager who initially informed him of Najib’s intention to open savings and current accounts with the bank early in January 2011.

Cheah also disclosed how he then informed AmBank chairman Tan Sri Azman Hashim at the latter’s office to discuss Najib’s interest to open the said accounts before being instructed to personally follow through with Najib’s request.

According to Cheah, Najib had also applied to open a savings account (2110020090-481) in a form dated January 18, 2011. He also confirmed both account opening forms were signed by Najib.

Cheah said he was unsure who had decided the exact code name to be used for the account but conceded there were prior discussions for its usage to protect information and maintain sensitivity.

He said the matter involving the code name was escalated to then Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Abdul Aziz.

Cheah further added he was frequently updated by Joanna and her team who acted as the relationship managers of the said account but stopped receiving updates following his mandatory retirement from AmBank in April 2012.

“As far as I can recall, there were many transactions for the said accounts but I did not keep records of them,” he said.

Later during cross-examination by Najib’s lawyer Harvinderjit Singh, Cheah revealed that the accounts were opened because Najib was expecting some donations from Saudi Arabia.

According to previous witness, AmBank Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager R. Uma Devi, both account-694 and account-481 were closed on August 30, 2013 under his instructions in a letter he wrote to the bank with the remaining balance of RM12436,711.87 and RM82.67 respectively transferred to one of Najib’s new current account (2112022011-880) that was opened on July 31, 2013.

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.