Bank manager to testify on exchanges with Jho Low

by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by BERNAMA

Former Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s SRC International Sdn Bhd trial enters Day 10 today as the court hears extensive money trail to and from his bank accounts allegedly from the misappropriated RM42 million fund.

After nine days of proceeding, the prosecution team led by Attorney General Tommy Thomas — has called in 21 witnesses out of some 60 witnesses expected to testify in this case.

The prosecution is expected to call in AmBank Group relationship manager Joanna Yu Ging Ping, one of the individuals who managed Najib’s bank accounts.

Public attention will be on Yu and the prosecutor’s fourth witness, Ahmad Farhan Sharifuddin, a manager at the Bank Negara Malaysia, over correspondence between the account managers and, especially fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or better known as Jho Low.

It is not known when a key witness to the trial, Datuk Suboh Md Yasin — a former SRC International director — will be called to testify in court.

Suboh was placed under the witness protection programme after he surrendered to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in June last year, according to reports.

Last week, the Kuala Lumpur (KL) High Court heard about 17 cheque issuances, 15 of which were issued by the former PM to various beneficiaries including for his personal use.

These multimillion transactions were executed between Jan 30, 2015, and Feb 26, 2015, before Najib closed his three AmBank accounts on March 9, 2015, as testified by the prosecution’s 21st witness, R Uma Devi.

The manager at AmBank Group’s branch in Jalan Raja Chulan, KL, said the transactions were largely executed under the instructions from the accounts’ authorised personnel Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, a missing ex-SRC International CEO.

Uma said the bank’s customer is liable to the transactions that are stated in bank statements and a report should be made for any irregularities within 14 working days.

Najib reportedly did not notify any such errors.

In total, Najib had five accounts with AmBank, one savings accounts and four current accounts between 2011 and 2015.

The bank’s records showed that multimillion funds were transferred to and from his accounts, including a credit of RM27 million on July 8, 2014, RM27 million (Dec 26, 2014) and RM10 million (Feb 10, 2015) into one of the five accounts.

The last two tranches of RM27 million and RM10 million were transferred from Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd’s accounts.

Ihsan Perdana, a purportedly SRC’s corporate social responsibility partner, and Gandingan Mentari Sdn Bhd were alleged to be the vehicles used to channel the RM42 million fund.

The court was also told how Najib had spent millions to monitor the local Chinese language media to gauge the sentiment in the community towards him and the previous government.

Najib, who is facing seven charges on money laundering, criminal breach of trust and power abuse, heard testimony from the 14th witness Rita Sim Sai Hoon who testified on an RM300,000 cheque issued to Centre For Strategic Engagement Sdn Bhd (CENSE) for local Chinese media outlets monitoring services.

The co-founder and director of CENSE said six local Chinese language-based publications were monitored.

The prosecution’s 17th witness Datuk Wong Nai Chee, a former political secretary to Najib, testified that a RM238,914 cheque payment was issued to Tan Sri Lim Soon Peng, the “grassroots person” for Najib to engage and understand the Chinese community.

Wong said the payments to Lim were meant for two parties — AD Network, the administrator of Ah Jib Gor Facebook account; and Akademi Kewartawanan dan Informasi Taima which owns the publication of Chinese Weekly.

Wong said the Ah Jib Gor Facebook account was for Najib to have an online presence to the Chinese communities and gain feedback.

For Chinese Weekly, Wong said the media organisation comprises “objective writers” who write on government policies in a correct manner.

Besides CENSE, Najib had also issued a RM240,000 cheque to Vital Spire Sdn Bhd, the operator of the now-defunct malaysiandigest.com news portal.

The prosecution’s 16th witness, Onn Hafiz Ghazi, a shareholder in Vital Spire said the news website was created to provide “alternative contents” and to combat “fake news”.

Earlier, the prosecution’s 18th witness Ashraf Abdul Razak, a former partner at Zulqarnain & Co, testified that the legal firm received RM2.5 million in 2015.

Ashraf said he was instructed by his client, Habibul Rahman Kadir Shah to manage the cheque that was said to have been received for a defence contract.