Najib: Jho Low suggested I open AmBank accounts for Arab donations

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is seen at the Kuala Lumpur High Court December 4, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is seen at the Kuala Lumpur High Court December 4, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 4 — The idea to open accounts with AmBank in 2010 came from Low Taek Jho, Datuk Seri Najib Razak told the High Court today in his RM42 million SRC International Sdn Bhd trial.

The former prime minister accused of misappropriating the government company’s money said the Penang-born businessman made the suggestion to ready an account in anticipation of financial support from Saudi Arabia’s monarch King Abdullah who intended to offer aid in the form of personal donations mid 2010.

“After discussing the matter with both Low and his special officer the late Datuk Azlin Alias, it was decided that I should open a bank account to receive said donations.

“Low also suggested the new account be opened at AmBank since he could introduce me to Mr Cheah Teck Kuang who was the bank’s managing director at that time,” Najib, testifying in his own defence, said in his witness statement.

He also confirmed that his meeting with Cheah at his private home in Jalan Langgak Duta here around mid-January 2011 was arranged by Low.

“Since the meet with Cheah was arranged through Low, Low was present to introduce both parties.

“After introductions, Cheah and I discussed the opening of bank accounts in private within a separate room without the presence of Low,” Najib said.

Cheah previously testified as the prosecution’s witness and had said Najib opened two accounts — one savings and one current — after he provided Najib with the relevant forms.

Earlier in his testimony, Najib said he was not told the amount nor date of the transaction except that it will be managed through the Saudi Arabia monarch’s son.

“Low said he would inform me of the matter when more details followed through. By year’s end, Low confirmed the donation will be deposited soon,” he said.

He said the amount Low had estimated was between US$100 million to US$200 million.

Najib said between 2011 and 2014, he received a huge sum of money believed to be the donation King Abdullah of which Low was the intermediary on behalf of the Saudi Arabia’s royal family.

Najib also said he was not shocked at the large amount as the Saudi Arabian royal family was widely known to be charitable; noting their past donations to various foundations in the United States and other countries as part of their foreign policy.

“Several letters regarding the donation was also received by AmBank from me and Low at that time in line with the donations received,” he said.

On his wish to open the accounts, Najib said he had the intention to use said donations for his own corporate social responsibility initiatives and did not want the donations to mix with his other income.

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

Najib was ordered to enter his defence to three counts of criminal breach of trust over a total RM42 million of SRC International funds while entrusted with its control as the prime minister and finance minister then, three counts of laundering the RM42 million, and another charge of abusing the same positions for self-gratification the sum.

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