KUALA LUMPUR, June 13 — Over RM45 million entered Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s Ambank account in five transactions over a three-month period in 2014, according to documents a senior bank officer verified today at the former prime minister’s corruption trial.
Salmah Daman Huri, vice-president of Treasury Operation Department at Ambank (M) Berhad, confirmed this while testifying as the 23rd prosecution witness in Najib’s trial over the misappropriation of more than RM2 billion of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds.
She confirmed six transaction slips showing the transfer of these funds in British pounds totalling over £8.7 million from an entity’s overseas accounts to an AmBank account only identified as “AmPrivate Banking-1MY” with the account number 2112022011880.
While she did not name the owner of this AmBank account as such an identity is not directly within the knowledge of the department where she worked at, this AmBank account number had previously been identified in Najib’s separate trial — over the misappropriation of RM42 million of SRC International Sdn Bhd’s funds — as belonging to Najib.
Salmah today confirmed five documents, which all showed transfers from Vista Equity International Partners through Amicorp Bank and Trust Ltd, Barbados via Standard Chartered Bank, London before it reached this same “AmPrivate Banking-1MY” account.
These are namely transfers of £5.75 million on October 21, 2014, £694,343.62 on November 24, 2014, £2,216.01 on November 24, 2014, £995,000 on December 8, 2014, and £1,264,462.29 or £1.264 million on December 19, 2014.
When these five transactions are totalled up, it would come up to £8,706,021.92 or slightly more than £8.7 million, which would be equivalent to RM45,837,485.70 or over RM45 million, based on the exchange rate at that time in 2014.
These foreign exchange rates are based on other banking documents that Salmah confirmed in court today.
On the first day of this 1MDB trial, the prosecution had said it would show that 1MDB funds had been transferred in multiple transactions to Najib’s accounts, namely US$20 million equivalent to RM60,629,839.43 or over RM60 million from the first phase, US$30 million equivalent to RM90,899,927.28 or over RM90 million (second phase), US$681 million equivalent to RM2,081,476,926 or over RM2 billion (third phase), and transactions in British pound that were equivalent to RM4,093,500 and RM45,837,485.70 or a combined total of RM49,930,985.70 million or over RM49 million (fourth phase).
The total of 1MDB funds that the prosecution had said it would prove had entered Najib’s accounts from all four phases would come up to a total of RM2,282,937,678.41 or over RM2.28 billion.
Converting millions of money in Najib’s other AmBank account
Salmah today confirmed further foreign currency exchanges that AmBank had helped a bank account identified only as “AmPrivateBanking-MR” to convert.
Last week, Salmah had confirmed that AmBank helped convert US$710,999,952 or over US$710 million in this client’s account to RM2.17 billion or RM2,172,376,853.28 during a period from October 31, 2012 to April 10, 2013.
Today, Salmah confirmed that AmBank had helped “AmPrivateBanking-MR” to convert a total of RM2,034,350,000 or RM2.03 billion into US$620 million in five transactions from July 2013 to August 2013.
She confirmed that AmBank had helped “AmPrivateBanking-MR” to convert a total of £7.495 million into RM39,485,815 or RM39.485 million in three transactions in June, October and December of 2014.
She also confirmed that AmBank helped “AmPrivateBanking - Yayasan Rakyat 1Malaysia” to convert £1,961,021.92 or over £1.96 million into RM10,445,170.70 or over RM10.445 million over three transactions in November and December 2014.
Najib’s defence lawyer Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed questioned why she had placed transactions related to the “AmPrivateBanking-MR” account under the heading of “Datuk Seri Najib’s account” in her witness statement in this trial.
Salmah then explained she had not known who this bank account belonged to at the time the transactions took place, but confirmed she had later found out that “AmPrivateBanking-MR” belongs to Najib from the investigating officer after investigations on 1MDB took place.
She also confirmed that she had communicated with AmBank’s relationship managers who were handling this account about the transactions and not directly with the client, and that she did not ask the relationship manager about the identity of this AmPrivateBanking client. AmPrivateBanking account holders’ identities are kept confidential.
She agreed with Wan Aizuddin’s suggestion that she could not confirm if the instructions for these transactions actually came from the account holder as she was only communicating with the relationship manager.
Asked by Wan Aizuddin about these foreign currency exchanges that AmBank helped handle for “AmPrivateBanking - MR” and “AmPrivateBanking - Yayasan Rakyat 1 Malaysia”, Salmah said AmBank’s confirmation letter of such transactions to the bank clients carry a clause requiring the customers to revert to AmBank if they find any discrepancies in the transactions.
Salmah also explained that there is supervision by Bank Negara Malaysia of such transactions to prevent money-laundering, such as requirement of Bank Negara’s approval if the purpose of such money remittances by a bank’s clients are for investments, for example.
If any of the transactions has a red flag raised by Bank Negara, she confirmed that her unit would be informed, and they would check for issues on the transactions. She also confirmed that her unit would also report to Bank Negara if any suspicious transactions were detected.
She confirmed however that no such red flags were raised either by Bank Negara or by AmBank on these transactions that she was verifying in court.
Later when asked by lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, Salmah confirmed that it is AmBank’s practice to send bank statements every month to their customers to notify them of the balance in their bank accounts.
Asked by deputy public prosecutor Najwa Bistamam if the AmBank account holder had made any reports about the transactions involving those accounts, Salmah confirmed that there was no such reports.
Najib’s AmPrivateBanking accounts for high net-worth clients
Regarding the AmPrivateBanking name in AmBank’s bank accounts, Salmah explained that customers under this AmPrivateBanking unit in AmBank are “usually all high net-worth customers” and that those working in the back office would not know who is the actual customer owning such accounts.
“So at our end, we only know is AmPrivateBanking, so they handle all those high net worth customers,” she said, agreeing with Najib’s lawyer Wan Aizuddin that it would not be unusual to have banking documents addressed to the AmPrivateBanking unit instead of to such customers directly as their identities are kept secret or confidential.
Salmah confirmed that banking documents would be sent directly to ordinary bank customers who are not handled by the AmPrivateBanking unit.
This afternoon, AmBank’s senior executive in its credit admin department, Khairil Anuar Khalid, testified as the 24th prosecution witness.
Najib’s 1MDB trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes tomorrow.