In SRC trial, Najib tells court he didn’t know Jho Low worked with bank to manage his accounts

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court December 9, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court December 9, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 9 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak told the High Court today that he was unaware AmBank was liaising with Low Taek Jho to manage his accounts.

Testifying in his own defence after being accused of misappropriating RM42 million from SRC International, the former prime minister who was also finance minister said he was shocked when he learnt the bank and Low were communicating with each other on handling his finances as he had not authorised such a thing and would have never allowed it if he had prior knowledge.

He said mandate for his AmBank accounts was given to Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil who was at that time SRC International’s CEO.

Najib also denied knowledge that AmBank employees such as Joanna Yu, Daniel Lee and Krystal Yap were appointed relationship managers for his accounts.

He asserted that he was also unaware that Low had instructed the bank to use specific names when dealing with his accounts there.

“I was not told about this matter and would have not allowed it. 

“I do not know why the bank took instructions from someone who was not authorised by me to manage my accounts. 

Concerning previous testimonies, namely by Yu, that she took instructions from Low via chats on BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) over the management of his accounts, Najib again testified that he was unaware of such dealings. 

“I did not allow Jho Low to deal with the bank concerning my accounts and I was not informed of such matters.

“Jho Low chose not to inform me of his involvement concerning dealings related to my account. 

“It is very clear from this trial proceedings and documentary findings that he was active in concealing these facts from me,” the Pekan MP testified, speaking of the flamboyant Penang-born financier known globally as Jho Low.

Najib also said he did not know that his bank accounts had been overdrawn many times as a result of the cheques he had issued. 

He said AmBank had not informed him when Bank Negara Malaysia red-flagged his accounts as suspicious money laundering activities when Low made multiple cash deposits for overdrawing.

In answer to past prosecution witnesses who testified that a total of RM12 million was deposited using cash into his accounts following communications between Low and Yu, Najib said he would have not allowed for such actions that would have laid him open to claims of abuse from Opposition politicians and tarnished his reputation if word got out.

Najib said he was only in contact with his former special officer Datuk Azlin Alias over the state of funds in his accounts before issuing cheques, and maintained that he was not informed on every instance his accounts were overdrawn as an effect of the cheques issued. 

“This clearly shows that I was not informed of the actual balance within my accounts when I had asked about it before issuing cheques,” he said.

He explained that payments he made using cheques were not needed to warrant immediate cash deposits to regularise the account and that he would have not issued them if the accounts had insufficient money in them.

“It would have been something very embarrassing to me if my cheques could not be cashed. I would have not taken the risk. 

“As I remember, not a single payment made needed to be settled instantly and almost all contributions were made only when recipients had come to see me to obtain these contributions. 

“I agreed to give these contributions because I was told there were sufficient funds,” he said. 

Among the recipients of such “contributions” were Barisan Nasional component parties including Umno and several others for welfare, political and social causes, Najib said.

Najib is fending off seven charges related to SRC International Sdn Bhd. 

Three are for 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 more are for laundering the RM42 million, and the last is for abusing the same positions for self-gratification of the same sum. 

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