Alleged Arab royal promised US$1.17b donation to Najib, claim letters

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All three letters were careful to say that the donation of hundreds of millions of US dollars should not be seen as an act of corruption.

  • Purported Saudi prince promised gifts of:

– US$100 million in 2011 letter

– US$375 million in a second 2011 letter

– US$800 million in a 2013 letter

  • The letters could not be verified were from “Prince Saud Abdulaziz Al Saud”
  • The letters said the funds were:

– A reward for Najib’s governing Malaysia according to Islamic principles and reintroducing the religion to the world

– A gesture of goodwill and Najib had absolute discretion as to how they should be utilised

– Not expected to be repaid

Najib’s defence team showed letters purportedly from an Arab prince to the Kuala Lumpur High Court during today’s trial of the RM2.28 billion 1MDB corruption case against the former finance minister.

The accused’s legal team is relying on the line of defence that Arab donations flowed into his bank account in 2013.

During cross-examination of the 38th prosecution witness, Yap Wai Keat, who is the head of AmBank’s capital market desk, defence counsel Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed showed two letters purportedly by one Saud Abdulaziz al-Saud and addressed to Najib.

One letter – dated Nov 1, 2011 – promised a US$375 million donation while the other letter – dated March 1, 2013 – promised a US$800 million donation.

Last week during proceedings before trial judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah, the defence team also showed to the court another purported letter from Saud dated Feb 1, 2011, that allegedly promised a US$100 million donation to Najib.

The Feb 1 letter allegedly promised the US$100 million donation over “Recognition of Contribution to the Islamic World”.

The three letters have yet to be formally allowed by the court to be tendered as exhibits in the case.

During proceedings today, Wan Aizuddin asked the witness (Yap) if he had seen the latter before.

Yusof Mat Isa

Yap was involved in finding the foreign exchange quotes for the transfer of US$620 million that was transferred out of Najib’s account in 2013.

“The gift should not be in any event be construed as an act of corruption since this is against the practice of Islam and I personally do not encourage such practices in any manner whatsoever.

“This is merely a personal token of appreciation and I am hoping that the gift would encourage you to continue with your good work to promote Islam around the world,” Wan Aizuddin read out the letter purportedly promising the US$800 million donation.

However, Yap replied that he could not confirm the authenticity of the letters as he handled many transactions back then. He added that the best person to answer the question is Joanna Yu, Najib’s then relationship manager when she was employed by AmBank.

Najib is on trial for four counts of abuse of power and 21 counts of money laundering involving RM2.28 billion from 1MDB.

Yusof Mat Isa

In relation to the four abuse of power charges, the Pekan MP was alleged to have committed the offence at AmIslamic Bank Berhad’s Jalan Raja Chulan branch in Bukit Ceylon, Kuala Lumpur, between Feb 24, 2011, and Dec 19, 2014.

On the 21 money laundering counts, Najib is purported to have committed the offences at the same bank between March 22, 2013, and Aug 30, 2013.

In the prosecution’s opening statement at the beginning of the trial on Aug 28, 2019, lead deputy public prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram contended that the crime was allegedly committed through four phases spanning from 2011 to 2014.

Prosecutors contended that the first nine money laundering charges relate to alleged receiving of RM2,081,476,926 which forms the subject matter of the amended third charge and that the monies purportedly fell into the accused’s account ending 694 with AmIslamic Bank.

The prosecution claimed that between Aug 2, 2013, and Aug 23, 2013, the accused transferred a sum of RM2,034,350,000 to Tanore Singapore.

Prosecutors alleged that simultaneously, the accused had used the balance of RM22,649,000 to pay four entities and one individual.

The prosecution contends that all these payments purportedly benefitted the accused.

They also contended that Najib received US$20 million (RM60,629,839.43) of 1MDB’s funds from Prince Faisal via two tranches of US$10 million each – the first tranche was on Feb 24, 2011, and the second tranche on June 14, 2011.

The prosecution contended that the wrongdoing at 1MDB was carried out by fugitive businessperson Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, and several others with Najib’s blessing.

The accused’s defence team, however, claimed that the former prime minister had no knowledge of the crime perpetrated at 1MDB and the embezzlement was solely masterminded by Low and other members of the fund’s management.

Najib was dressed in a light brown suit with a dark brown tie paired with brown shoes and socks matching his suit while in the courtroom. His wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor also attended part of his trial.