KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 3 — A purported Saudi prince had continued to promise a gift of US$800 million to former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in 2013, after having allegedly promised gifts of US$375 million and US$100 million in two separate letters in 2011, the High Court heard today.
Najib's lawyer Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed presented to the High Court the third purported letter from the alleged Saudi royal figure, "Saud Abdulaziz Al Saud", on the promise to give hundreds of millions of US dollars.
This occurred in Najib's trial over the alleged misappropriation or dishonest taking of RM2.28 billion of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds, where Najib's lawyers sought to argue that the billions of ringgit which entered Najib's accounts were donations or gifts from Saudi Arabia's royalty.
Wan Aizuddin showed the third letter dated March 1, 2013, and read out almost the entire letter to the 38th prosecution witness and AmBank's director of foreign exchange and derivative sales Yap Wai Keat.
This included the excerpt: "In view of the friendship that we have developed over the years and your new ideas as a modern Islamic leader, in addition to my earlier commitments, I hereby grant you an additional sum of up to United States Dollar Eight Hundred Million (US$800,000,000) Only ("Gift") which shall be remitted to you at such times and in such manner as I deem fit either directly from my personal bank account or through my instructed company bank accounts (as such Tanore Finance Corp)."
Wan Aizuddin then highlighted to Yap that this alleged Saudi prince had said in the 2013 letter that "he will be sending to Datuk Seri Najib a sum of up to US$800 million", with Yap agreeing with this.
Wan Aizuddin sought to suggest that the US$681 million that entered Najib's personal AmIslamic bank account (with the account number ending 9694) via two batches sent out by Tanore Finance Corporation (US$61 million on March 25, 2013 and US$620 million on March 21, 2013) would be within the amount of US$800 million, with Yap also agreeing.
Wan Aizuddin: And you would also agree, the sending entity for the US$620 million and US$61 million as per the SWIFT notes, Tanore Finance Corp is mentioned in this letter to be an outfit of the Saudi prince?
Wan Aizuddin then asked if Yap had known about any of these three letters from the purported Saudi prince (which promised US$100 million as a gift to Najib via the letter dated February 1, 2011 and the US$375 million gift via the November 1, 2011 letter and the March 2013 letter promising US$800 million).
Having earlier remarked that the March 2013 letter looks similar to the previous two letters, Yap said he could not be sure if he had gone through all of these documents in the past when executing currency conversions in the past for the bank, as he had gone through many documents over the years.
But Yap said he might have seen one of these letters as he would need to know the purpose for the transaction to key into the bank's system to carry out the currency conversions, adding: "So we would need to know, for example, this is for a gift, we would have to record it down."
Yap was required to key in the purpose for transactions involving either the conversion of ringgit Malaysia to US dollars or vice versa into the bank system using pre-set codes, noting that transactions involving Najib's account generally required him to key in the purpose codes for donations, gifts or private transfers.
Asked by Wan Aizuddin that the reason stated in all three letters for the sending of money to Najib was that it is a "gift from Saud Abdulaziz Al Saud", with Yap then agreeing with this based on the letters.
The three letters produced by Wan Aizuddin in court from the purported Saudi royalty had contents that were almost identical except for certain details including the amount and mention of specific bank accounts in the second and third letter, with the first letter signed off by "Saud Abdulaziz AL-Saud", the second letter signed off by "HRH Prince Saud Abdulaziz Al-Saud", while the third letter was signed off by "Saud Abdulaziz Al Saud".
All three letters were careful to say that the donation of hundreds of millions of US dollars should not be seen as an act of corruption.
Last week, Wan Aizuddin had also sought to suggest that the first letter purportedly promising the US$100 million gift would cover a US$20 million equivalent to RM60.6 million which had entered Najib's account in February and June 2011.
Wan Aizuddin had also tried to suggest that about US$159 million which entered Najib's account from November 2011 via six transactions would mathematically be within the US$375 million purportedly promised in the second letter.
On the first day of trial, the prosecution said it would prove that RM2,282,937,678.41 or over RM2.28 billion of 1MDB funds had entered Najib's personal bank accounts from all four phases of the 1MDB scheme.
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 over RM60 million from the first phase of the 1MDB scheme, US$30 million equivalent to 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 prosecution had said Tanore was controlled by Low Taek Jho’s associate Eric Tan and it had allegedly paid the US$681 million of 1MDB funds to Najib’s account between March 21, 2013 and April 10, 2013.
After the US$681 million entered Najib's AmIslamic account ending 9694 from Tanore Finance Corp in March 2013, the same account belonging to Najib had in August 2013 converted RM2,034,350,000 or over RM2.034 billion into US$620 million and then sent the money to Tanore.
Wan Aizuddin then asked Yap if he recalled any significant event which had happened between March 2013 and August 2013, with Yap then saying: "If I'm not mistaken, GE (general elections)."
Malaysia's 13th general elections (GE13) took place on May 5, 2013.
Shown a July 30, 2013 confirmation letter where Najib confirmed his instructions to AmBank to send out the US$620 million to "return" the "unutilised sum of donations and personal gifts I had received", Yap agreed this would be the instructions given, based on the letter shown to him in court today.
Yap said he does not think there are any pre-set codes stating "return donation" and that he would have likely keyed in codes for private transfer or gifts into the bank's system when carrying out the conversion of ringgit Malaysia to US dollars to enable the US$620 million to be sent out.
Najib was dressed in a light brown suit with a dark brown tie paired with brown shoes and socks matching his suit while in the courtroom. His wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor also attended part of his trial.
Today is the first day of the Dewan Rakyat proceedings. While still being Pekan MP, Najib who is a prisoner and accused person attended his trial instead of going to Parliament this morning.
Najib's 1MDB trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah is scheduled to resume this afternoon.