by BERNAMA/ pic by BERNAMA
Former special officer to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was very surprised when told that he had USD884,996.78 in his BSI Switzerland account in early 2016 but he had never used the money and did not know its status until now because it was managed by fugitive businessman, Low Taek Jho known as Jho Low.
Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin (picture), 43, when reading his witness statement said he had received a call from BSI Switzerland where a BSI officer had asked if he knew the balance in his account.
“I replied that I did not know. He told me that there was USD884,996.78 in my account. I felt very surprised because I did not know anything about the money. I asked the bank officer to give his opinion on the cash deposits into the account, but the bank officer just said that he would contact me again.
“On another occasion, I was contacted by an officer from BSI and was told that my relationship with the bank would be terminated and I was required to transfer the funds to a company under my name or another account in my name. I had referred the matter to Jho Low because at that time there was an instruction to contact him (Jho Low) if there was any question on the account,”he said.
The eighth prosecution witness said this during examination-in-chief by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Ahmad Akram Gharib on the fourth day of the trial of former prime minister Najib who is charged on four counts of using his position to obtain a bribe totalling RM2.3 billion in 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount of money.
The witness added, Jho Low subsequently instructed him to open a bank account in Shanghai as at that time there were dealings in China and there was a need to go there.
Amhari Efendi explained that Jho Low had personally assisted in opening the account but the application to open the account was unsuccessful.
“He (Jho Low) did not say why the application to open the account was unsuccessful. Later, he directed me to go to Bangkok to open an account at the Kasikornbank.
“The process of opening the account had been assisted by a Thai national named Oada, who was an acquaintance of Jho Low and not the bank official, but I don’t remember his name. The bank account in Bangkok was successfully opened immediately.
“When the bank account in Bangkok was successfully opened, I had sent a letter to BSI Switzerland by fax at the Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai to transfer funds in the BSI account to the Kasikornbank account and close the BSI account, during my working visit to Dubai on Sept 28 2016,” he said, adding that Jho Low had instructed him not to send by fax using a Malaysian number.
The witness said he did so on the instruction he received from BSI to transfer the money in his name in the BSI account to other accounts that he owned.
“However, I was informed by BSI about one or two days later that the money transfer was unsuccessful and that it was temporarily postponed and a bank official would contact me again if there was any development.
“I had informed the matter to Jho Low and he told me that he would resolve the problem on my behalf. Until today I do not know what happened to the money in the account,” he said.
Amhari Efendi however said he had not withdrawn money from the account for personal use or transferred the money to any account that he owned or any other account as the account was fully managed by Jho Low.
“I also dared not ask Najib on the funds that were in the account. Datuk Azlin (Datuk Azlin Alias, who was then Najib’s Principal Private Secretary) dared not ask and I remembered his instructions that the account was not only for the purpose of political funds but if I questioned anything that is very confidential such as this, it could jeopardise my job or position,”he said.
He said generally that officers in the Prime Minister’s Office had never and could not question on the sources of funds received by Najib as this could be perceived as questioning his credibility.
“I believed that there were funds that came from Jho Low because prior to GE13, Jho Low had told me and Datuk Azlin on he funds to be used in the general elections to gain the majority votes in Penang.
“However, Jho Low had never explained the way he obtained the money. Until today, I know nothing about the status of the funds in the account as it is still controlled by Jho Low,” he said.
Najib, 66, is facing four charges of using his position to obtain bribes amounting to RM2.3 billion in the 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same funds.
The Member of Parliament for Pekan was alleged to have committed four counts of bribery at the AmIslamic Bank Berhad Branch, Jalan Raja Chulan, Bukit Ceylon here between Feb 24, 2011 and Dec 19, 2014 while all the money laundering charges between March 22, 2013 and Aug 30, 2013, were also at the same place.
The trial before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues.