Opening foreign bank account: ‘Boss Najib will take care’ – witness

by BERNAMA/ pic by BERNAMA

“BOSS (Najib) will take care,” fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho also known as Jho Low, told Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin, former special officer to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (picture), when giving instruction on opening a foreign bank account.

Amhari Efendi, 43, told the High Court here today that Jho Low told him should any question be raised over the account, Najib would protect them (Amhari Efendi and Datuk Azlin Alias who was Najib’s former private secretary).

“Jho Low also told us to be assured, not to worry and to trust him, telling us that “boss will take care “.

“Datuk Azlin also expressed his unease but Jho Low reiterated that all these would be done above board, through proper documentation and using a well-known and reputable bank. Datuk Azlin just kept quiet. Jho Low said he would come back to us on this issue and left the meeting,” he said.

He said the bank accounts ordered to be opened overseas were likely for ‘money laundering’ purposes to receive political funds for Najib in facing the 13th general election (GE13).

The eighth prosecution witness said Jho Low ordered him and Datuk Azlin to open separate foreign bank accounts for GE13 purposes.

When reading his witness statement Amhari Efendi said Jho Low had instructed them to do so after informing that he already had the blessings of Najib and the accounts would be managed by Jho Low himself.

“We were instructed to open the ‘just in case and standby’ accounts. When we found out about this, we both feared the accounts could possibly be for money laundering ahead of GE13.

“At that time I did wonder if this account was for an honourable course why should I be involved in opening the account, why did it have to be opened overseas and why should it be managed by Jho Low?

The first key witness said this during examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib on the fourth day of Najib’s 1MDB trial.

He said he and Datuk Azlin had discussed the matter and they were sceptical about it but felt they had to agree as it involved principles of confidentiality and were afraid that they, their families and jobs would be threatened if they rejected the proposal.

“I decided to follow Datuk Azlin’s advice because he was my boss and he was more aware of the matter. However at that meeting we did not give our consent to Jho Low.

“Shortly after this, there was another private meeting and Jho Low kept insisting and reassuring us that everything is going to be done properly and securely and finally, Datuk Azlin agreed on opening the foreign bank account.

“As such I had to go along with Datuk Azlin’s decision and was pressured to agree. After Jho Low was informed of our decision, he left the meeting. Datuk Azlin told me we had better abide by the instructions or our jobs were at stake.

“Datuk Azlin also said that if we refused, our families too would be threatened as we are already aware of the attempt to open the account but did not do as instructed,” he said.

Elaborating, the witness said Jho Low controlled and coordinated the process in opening the bank accounts and even sent them to Singapore.

“I can’t remember the date of the meeting but it was held in a hotel room, the hotel I have forgotten. When we arrived, Jho Low was already in the room with a BSI bank representative named Yvonne who was introduced to us.

“Jho Low explained to both of us on the process of opening the bank account. I just followed what Datuk Azlin did. Yvonne then went through the procedures and told us that the approval would take quite some time. All the information, account opening process and so forth were fully handled by Jho Low,” he said.

He added that during the meeting, he also handed over documents such as copies of his passport and papers confirming his house address, apart from signing several forms.

“I just followed what Datuk Azlin did. We were manipulated by Jho Low with the help of Yvonne and another BSI officer, whose name I cannot remember but who was also present then,” the witness said.

Amhari Efendi added that in another private meeting between him, Jho Low and Datuk Azlin, Jho Low informed that his application was not approved but did not give the reasons.

“However, Datuk Azlin’s application was successful. I felt relieved and did not follow up on the matter. At another meeting, Jho Low informed that my BSI account application was approved.

“I do not know what Jho Low did to have the application approved. but I did wonder how it could happen when I did not do anything to pursue the matter after being informed by Jho Low that my application was unsuccessful.

“When Jho Low was gone, Datuk Azlin reminded me not to ever use the money since it was not ours. Moreover, Jho Low was in full control of the account and there was nothing we could do. Datuk Azlin also advised me to just play along.

“The entire process in opening the two accounts took less than a year. We were notified of the accounts only when Jho Low personally informed us. With Jho Low it was a one-way conversation. He spoke briefly without giving us the chance to ask anything,” he said.

Najib, 66, is facing four charges of abusing his position to corruptly obtain RM2.3 billion of 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering related to the money.

The Pekan member of parliament allegedly committed the four offences at AmIslamic Bank Berhad, Jalan Raja Chulan branch, Bukit Ceylon here between Feb 24, 2011 and Dec 19, 2014, and the 21 charges, between March 22, 2013 and Aug 30, 2013, at the same place.

The trial before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues.