Najib preferred Saudi royal donation from local corporate donors

He says the RM2.6b donation was to ensure ‘independence’ in the run-up to the 13th GE

by BERNAMA / pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

FORMER Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak told the High Court in Kuala Lumpur yesterday that he preferred donations from the Saudi royal family instead of local corporate donors.

The 67-year-old Pekan MP said he felt more comfortable by not taking corporate donations as he did not want to feel indebted to anyone.

“As the Umno president at that time, I wanted a source of income to make me independent of other donors, that would mean I do not have an IOU (I owe you) with anyone,” said the former finance minister when reexamined by his lawyer Harvinderjit Singh.

Najib said the RM2.6 billion donation from the Saudi royal family was to ensure “independence” in the run-up to the 13th General Election (GE).

To another question, Najib said his bank accounts with AmBank Group were opened in 2010, following a suggestion by fugitive businessman Jho Low, or Low Taek Jho, to facilitate the transfer involving large amounts of money from the Saudi royal family.

Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah wrapped up his re-examination against Najib.

High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali then allowed Najib to be released from the witness stand.

Najib had been testifying from the witness stand since Dec 3, 2019, in the defence trial. He is making his defence on seven charges of misappropriating RM42 million in SRC International Sdn Bhd funds, comprising three counts of criminal breach of trust, three counts of money laundering and one count of abuse of position in relation to the SRC funds.

Meanwhile, former AmBank relationship manager Krystle Yap Wy Sze told the Kuala Lumpur High Court yesterday that there were several occasions where she had been instructed to meet with Jho Low’s associate, Kee Kok Thiam, to facilitate cash deposit into Najib’s various accounts in 2014 and 2015.

Yap, 34, who was a junior member in the AmBank team, along with two other senior relationship managers, namely Joanna Yu and Daniel Lee, confirmed among the accounts the team managed were Najib’s accounts with the numbers ending 694, 880, 906 and 898; as well as the SRC International account.

The accounts with the ending numbers 880, 906 and 898 formed the crucial part of the seven charges of abuse of position, criminal breach of trust and money laundering, involving RM42 million of funds from SRC International made against Najib.

However, Yap said she did not know why Kee facilitated those deposits.

“I was merely acting on Yu’s instructions to expedite Kee’s dealings with the bank. I merely arranged for a branch personnel to attend to him straight away. Essentially I just arranged for him to ‘cut the queue’ so to speak,” said the second defence witness during examination-in-chief by Najib’s counsel, Farhan Read.

Yap also told the court that an officer from the bank’s compliance department had asked for copies of the “gift letters” Yu had received relating to several foreign inward deposits made into Najib’s accounts.

Farhan then referred the witness to several documents and Yap said those were the letters Yu had given to her to file in 2015.

“I was made to understand that these were the supporting documents for the inward remittances into Najib’s accounts from 2011 to 2014,” she added.

The supporting letters were for the inward remittances into the 694, 906, 898 and 880 accounts from 2011 to 2014.

Farhan: To your knowledge, were any of these incoming funds flagged as suspicious transactions?

Yap: They weren’t as they had come with supporting documents.

Towards the end of yesterday’s proceedings, Harvinderjit informed the court that former Treasury secretary general Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah will testify as third defence witness today.

The hearing before Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali continues today.