KUALA LUMPUR: It was a day when the issue of rogue bankers was brought up and also one where the infamous Low Taek Jho @ Jho Low’s name was finally mentioned.
The fourth day of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s trial yesterday saw the prosecution and defence getting into a protracted argument on the submission of items seized by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) officials during a raid on the AmBank Group office in Jalan Raja Chulan on July 6, 2015.
The drama started during the cross-examination of BNM investigating officer Ahmad Farhan Syarifuddin, 32.
Farhan had testified that three BNM’s teams had raided the AmBank office and seized a numbers of document and items related to several bank accounts including that of the former prime minister.
He said some of the items were in his possession, but he could not remember what they were.
At this juncture, Najib’s lawyer Harvinderjit Singh immediately requested that the defence be given access to the items.
However, deputy public prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram protested and questioned the relevancy of the defence’s application.
“We can give it to them, but they must satisfy provisions of the law before making this application.
“What they are doing is just a fishing expedition.
“They keep asking for documents and other things without showing how it is going to be relevant to their case,” he said, adding that if the application was allowed it would lead to the defence doing the same thing to other witnesses.
He also argued that the defence needed to satisfy Section 51 of the Evidence Act, before their application could be considered.
This led to a back and fourth argument among Harvinderjit, Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Sithambaram, and Attorney-General (AG) Tommy Thomas who is leading the prosecution team.
Things got even more interesting when Harvinderjit suddenly brought up a report that was published in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), which cited alleged messages between Jho Low and Najib’s relationship manager at Ambank by the name of Joanna Yu.
He also read out excerpts from the best-selling book on the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal titled “Billion Dollar Whale”.
The book was also produced in court, much to the amusement of everyone present.
He said articles published in the WSJ and the book had detailed transcripts of the conversation between Jho Low and Joanna, where the duo discussed in detail how to conceal information concerning Najib’s account.
He argued that the defence needed access to everything that had been seized by the BNM officers from AmBank’s branch as these could shed light on the role of rogue bankers and Jho Low in handling Najib’s account.
“This trial is also going to be about methodology of how the account’s were managed.
“The WSJ was the one which first wrote about the SRC International scandal.
“The WSJ’s article was published on July 2, 2015, four days before AmBank was raided,” he said, adding the article contained details of Blackberry messages and also emails and communication between various figures involved in the 1MDB fiasco.
After almost an hour of arguments between the two sides, judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali ruled in favour of the defence.
He said given the grounds faced by the defence relating to the conversation among the bankers and other parties, he would allow the defence’s application.
Harvinderjit then rose and said the defence needed any communication between Joanna and several other Ambank bankers with Jho Low, and others.
The individuals he named included Nik Faisal Arif Kamil, Jerome Lee Tak Loong, Terrance Geh Choh Heng, Jasmine Loo, Shahrol Azral Ibrahim, Datuk Mohamed Azhar Osman Khairuddin, Tan Sri Ismee Ismail, Datuk Suboh Mohd Yassin, and See Yoh Peng.
Shafee later said one or two of the bankers could be “rogue” and communicated with the individuals named in a fashion not sanctioned by the bank.
Speaking to reporters later, he said the defence wanted to prove that Najib was a victim of a conspiracy by Jho Low and his gang.
“My client does not deal with his account himself. He was misled and is a victim,” he said.
The trial continues. – NST
Prosecution establishes money trail
KUALA LUMPUR: THE third day of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s trial yesterday saw the prosecution establishing a paper trail involving the transfer of millions of ringgit from one 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) subsidiary company to another.
This included the flow of RM5 million to RM40 million between 1MDB subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd, Gandingan Mentari Sdn Bhd and Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd, which was purportedly set up as SRC International’s corporate social responsibility partner.
The prosecution witnesses who testified and were thoroughly grilled by defence lawyers yesterday included Bank Negara Malaysia investigating officer Azizul Adzani Abdul Ghafar and his colleague, Muhammad Nizam Yahya.
Nizam, 39, who took to the stand as the third prosecution witness, testified that he was an analyst at the financial intelligence department of Bank Negara Malaysia.
He related how he had served Affin Bank Bhd with a notice under Section 37(1) of the Anti-Money Laundering Act on July 6, 2015.
He said the notice was served for the bank to hand over all documents related to Ihsan Perdana’s bank accounts. The bank provided the information, including furnishing documents like account opening forms, specimen signatures, list of authorised signatories and related documents.
Najib’s lawyers will continue cross-examining Nizam today.
Earlier, Azizul detailed how he had obtained documents from the AmBank branch in Jalan Raja Chulan that showed the transaction of millions of ringgit between SRC International and Gandingan Mentari.
The transactions took place between December 2014 and February 2015. He said this during cross-examination by Najib’s lawyer, Harvinderjit Singh.
Azizul, 41, confirmed that he had received documents about a number of bank accounts following a raid on the AmBank branch.
The raid on the commercial bank was conducted on July 6, 2015.
Among documents that were seized following the raid included details of Najib’s bank accounts, SRC International and Gandingan Mentari.
Azizul had testified on Monday that he obtained all these documents from the branch manager, R. Uma Devi.
Azizul said he was at the bank from about 9am to 9pm.
He said there was another team that also took part in the raid, but it concentrated on other sections of the bank.
Harvinderjit asked him repeatedly about how the raid progressed and whether Uma Devi had been asked to surrender specific transactions involving the bank accounts. However, Azizul maintained that he did not ask for specific transactions.
“I only received orders to get documents relating to certain bank account numbers.
“The branch manager gave these to me when I raided the bank in the morning.
“Later in the day, she gave me more documents when I was still at the branch,” he said.
Najib is facing three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT) and one count of abuse of power over funds amounting to RM42 million linked to SRC International.
He is also facing three money laundering charges over the same funds.
The three CBT charges were read under Section 409 of the Penal Code, while the power abuse charge was read under Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009.
Najib, who is Pekan member of parliament, is also facing three charges under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.
He faces up to 20 years’ jail, caning and a fine for the CBT charges; a maximum 20 years’ jail and a fine of not less than five times the amount of bribe involved for the abuse of power charge; and, jail time not exceeding 15 years and a fine of up to RM15 million for the money laundering charges.
The public first heard about SRC International when The Wall Street Journal exposed that money flowed from the company into Najib’s accounts.
Between December 2014 and February 2015, SRC International allegedly transferred RM50 million to Gandingan Mentari, which then transferred the money to Ihsan Perdana, WSJ reported. – NST