‘Rogue banker’ theory shot down as Jho Low’s roles get clearer in SRC trial

This is in light of a witness testimony that Najib’s bank accounts were handled based on instructions

by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

THE “rogue banker” theory has dissolved in Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s SRC International Sdn Bhd trial.

This comes in light of a witness testimony that the former prime minister’s bank accounts were handled based on instructions.

The prosecution’s 54th witness, Joanna Yu Ging Ping — who was the relationship manager for Najib’s accounts at AmBank Group — said there was no conspiracy in managing the accounts, but simply executions as instructed by the account holder or its mandate.

Najib, who had five accounts with AmBank, named the then SRC MD Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil as the mandate holder of the accounts.

To this day, the whereabouts of Nik Faisal are still unknown to the public.

The defence had previously propagated the rogue banker idea — who acted with Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low — and suggested that their client was out of the loop on money transactions and became a victim of a conspiracy.

“The defence has alleged that you were a rogue banker and acted in concert with Jho Low, which resulted in Najib being charged,” deputy public prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram asked during chief-examination.

“No, we did not conspire to do anything illegal,” Yu said.

The prosecution’s line of questioning enraged the defence, who argued that they never cast any aspersion on the AmBank employees who served the accounts.

Sithambaram asked whether the defence will withdraw the allegation in the proceeding, but the former did not respond.

Meanwhile, Yu added that Jho Low was the contact person between relationship managers and Najib, or the account mandate holder Nik Faisal, and oftentimes had acted as a problem solver.

For instance, when Najib’s credit card was declined in a Chanel store in Hawaii, Jho Low had contacted Yu to sort out the matter urgently.

“My platinum cards are not going through, Jho (Low). Can you call AmBank Visa and Mastercard right away? Thanks — from MNR, please help ASAP?” read an excerpt of a conversation between Najib and Jho Low, which was then forwarded to Yu with further instructions.

“Yep, called them already. Asking card guys to look into it immediately,” Yu said in one of the replies to Jho Low.

These correspondences were read out in the proceeding as communications between Jho Low and Yu were under examination in the High Court.

Najib, who was referred to as “MNR” in the conversations, was swiping his credit card at the Chanel store for a US$100,000 (RM412,000) purchase on Dec 23, 2014.

The SRC trial continues today with re-examination on Yu, after the case was called off yesterday when defence counsel Harvinderjit Singh called in sick.

Lead defence lawyer Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah was also unable to attend the SRC trial as he had to go to another hearing.

Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali earlier ruled that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission had no power to block Najib from accessing his accounts’ information and documents in preparing for his defence in the trial.

Mohd Nazlan also allowed Yu’s witness statement draft to be scrutinised against the one that she read out and tendered in court.

Najib is facing seven charges on criminal breach of trust, power abuse and money laundering over RM42 million funds allegedly embezzled from SRC.

On July 23, 2019, or Day 42 of the trial, about 30 supporters celebrated Najib’s 66th birthday at the courthouse.