Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 11

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Revealed today – multi-million ringgit cheques caused overdraft in Najib’s AmBank accounts but always replenished with cash transfers, RM4billion transferred from KWAP into Najib’s account, and Habibul, who provided analyses and advice to Najib, paid RM2.5 million.

Chronology of Events:

9.08am: Dressed in a cream-coloured suit, Najib enters the court and takes a seat in the front row of the public gallery as he waits for proceedings to begin.

Azneal Ishak/Malaysiakini

9.22am: Uma continues her testimony and Harvinderjit begins cross-examination.

9.34am: Harvinderjit is scrutinising each transaction in Najib’s accounts.

Uma confirms that there was a series of rapid transactions that caused AmBank accounts ending with 880, 906 and 898 to go into overdraft over the 2014 period.

However, further transactions regularised these accounts.

10am: RM5 million was transferred into the AmBank account from an Affin Bank account. Harvinderjit says this was brought in to cover the overdraft in account 898. Uma agrees.

Harvinderjit: “With earlier entries and remittances, can we tell exactly which party put in this amount and what the relationship manager discloses to the bank on what the amount is for?”

Uma: Yes.

She adds that only the AmBank relationship manager would know what was the purpose of these transactions.

Relationship managers are responsible for handling high-value clients, who have over RM250,000 in bank deposits.

Uma also confirms that RM10 million was transferred in and out of AmBank account ending with 880 on Feb 10, 2015.

10.35am: Uma agrees with the defence on the unusual nature of transactions involving money going in and out of the three AmBank accounts that went from overdraft to being regularised again.

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During cross-examination by Harvinderjit, Uma adds that these types of transactions, in which overdrafts of the accounts are triggered and later regularised by further transactions, may indicate the person involved knows money will be coming in to settle the overdrafts.

Harvinderjit: Do you agree that the operation of these three accounts was unusual in that cheques were issued from points of time when the accounts balance did not have enough to cover (the cheques)? Can we infer the person issuing the cheques did so with no specific knowledge of the accounts’ balance?

Uma: Either that or they know already that got (money) coming soon (to cover the overdraft in the accounts). We have customers who do that in regard to their accounts.

10.40am: Harvinderjit concludes his cross-examination of Uma. Lead defence counsel Shafee begins his cross-examination.

10.42am: Shafee says he has several questions pertaining to banking principles.

The account holder is responsible and liable for any transaction in the account, he said.

10.47am: Sometimes people request for a mandate of an account to handle their account, Uma tells the court after Shafee’s questioning.

But there must be some justification to the bank by the account holder for the mandate to be appointed, she says.

Shafee: Would you appoint someone who you don’t trust?

Uma: No.

Shafee: Do you have a fraud monitoring department?

Uma: We have group compliance. Under this department we have monitoring.

10.50am: Shafee points to differences in the signature between the soft copy and hard copy.

“There have been differences, without even comparing. You also have agreed the signatures are different. Who ensures compliance?” he asks Uma.

Uma: Anybody who does the transaction, if they find it’s suspicious, they can write a report to the compliance department and they will investigate.

10.52am: Shafee says the officer should not have accepted the documents and should have alerted the compliance.

Shafee: If a bank officer was not bringing a report to the compliance department, can this go undetected?

Uma: Yes.

Shafee: If the officer does not tell the compliance department, does that mean there is a loophole if the officer sees a dubious transaction and doesn’t report it?

Uma: Yes.

She also tells the court that it is standard procedure not to proceed with a transaction if they found an obvious mismatch with the signature specimen in their database.

The bank will then inform the customer that they cannot proceed with the transaction due to the signature mismatch, she adds.

Uma also testifies that, according to available documents, the bank had not conducted any inquiry based on the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (Amlatfa) into any of the transactions involving accounts related to Najib.

11am: Shafee tells Uma that she was questioned earlier about transactions from Saudi Arabia, from Prince Faisal and the Finance Ministry of Saudi.

Lim Huey Teng/Malaysiakini

Shafee: You agree with me that the source of the money will raise an inquiry within the bank to find out if sources are valid?

Uma: Any transfer of RM50,000 can be enquired.

Shafee: (The purpose of the inquiry is) to find out the sources?

Uma Devi: The purpose and the source of funds, yes.

Uma later testifies that all transactions involving funds amounting to RM10,000 and above which are transferred to or from overseas would need to be declared to Bank Negara.

She says the system, which had been in place before 2013, requires the customer to state, among others, the purpose of moving the funds.

Uma Devi testifies that the bank would then need a consent letter from Bank Negara, without which they would not perform the transaction.

Shafee: Looking at all documents, you came across nothing untoward in relation to this case and matters you testified on various accounts related to Najib? You have not found documents that raise the alarm pertaining to sources of funds or suspected in any way?

Uma Devi: There was none in the records.

Shafee: There was no reason to suspect any transfer (in the account)?

Uma: No reason.

When Shafee asks Uma whether she knows more about alleged transfers from Saudi Arabia’s Finance Ministry and Prince Faisal bin Turki into Najib’s accounts, Uma says that only remittance officers of the bank would have such knowledge.

11.13am: Shafee ends his cross-examination. Court breaks for 10 minutes.

11.33am: Prosecutor V Sithambaram tells Uma that he wants to give some background.

Sithambaram: You were shown various documents from various accounts, which show that the bank didn’t take proper steps to ensure that fraud didn’t take place, you recall that?

Uma: Yes.

Sithambaram: The letter from SRC to AmIslamic bank dated December 24, 2014, there’s an instruction to debit RM40 million from Gandingan Menteri?

Uma: Correct.

11.50am: Sithambaram asks if Najib sued the bank for RM32 million for a breach of mandate and wrong signature.

Uma: Not to my knowledge.

Sithambaram: Do you agree that all the cheques issued under the three accounts (ending in 906, 880 and 898) can only be signed by DSN (Najib) and no one else?

Uma: Yes.

11.39am: Sithambaram also goes through the transactions and asks Uma to verify them.

Sithambaram: As a banker, considering SRC is a government company, do you find it strange that the customer has not sued the bank for breach of mandate after five years?

To put it squarely, are you aware of legal action taken against the bank for this total sum of RM85 million?

Uma: Not to my knowledge.

12.02pm: Sithambaram asks if Nik Faisal can take any money from Najib’s account, to which Uma said “No”.

After three hours, Uma stands down.

Sithambaram ends his questioning and asks that the 21st witness be discharged.

12.03pm: The 20th witness, Rosiah Mohd Rosli, takes the stand.

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12.05pm: The witness from Affin Bank was asked to come back with a cheque image which shows that Ihsan Perdana debited RM8 million to another company called Mail Ventures Sdn Bhd.

Harvinderjit says he has no further questions and Rosiah is let go from the stand.

The prosecution also has nothing to re-examine.

12.08pm: Next witness Lew Choon Lai takes the stand. He is a small-time property developer and the owner of Solar Shine Sdn Bhd, an event organising firm formed in 2010.

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12.10pm: The 22nd witness, Lew says he distributes food items to Indians in residential areas.

Since 2010, the company has been organising lunches and dinners among Chinese folk in rural areas. He says funding came from friends in the early stages.

The company was not involved with BN but coordinated with them, Lew says.

He met Najib in 2015 as the latter had given him funds to continue his programmes for the Indians and Chinese.

12.13pm: Lew met Najib in 2009 with Tan Sri William Cheng, a billionaire who owns Lion Corp, at the 5th floor of the Prime Minister’s Department.

It was a casual meeting about how to solve Chinese-related problems.

He met with Najib a few months later to volunteer to assist in the ground campaign for promoting the 1Malaysia policy.

“I am a very firm believer of this policy. This is a dream policy for all Malaysian, everybody was equal,” he says.

He met Najib alone this time in the PM’s office. He said it was a short meeting and he was reporting on ground sentiments.

12.16pm: Lew says he received a cheque from Najib in 2015 for RM1 million paid to Solar Shine Sdn Bhd.

The cheque was dated February 17, 2015, for RM1 million and signed by Najib.

Lew tells the court that the money he received from Najib was used to help the people understand better the 1Malaysia policy by giving essentials to them.

12.19pm: The money was used to pay suppliers who bought rice and other materials for the poor.

12.20pm: He says they did ground reports on the sentiments of the Chinese and the Indians and he sent them personally to Najib.

Shafee: This was a voluntarily service but you used Solar Shine?

Lew: Yes.

12.23pm: Lew says he is a strong believer in 1Malaysia.

Serving such an honourable prime minister was my dream, he tells Shafee when asked why he decided to volunteer.

He says the purpose of this was to build a better relationship with blue-collared workers, who don’t understand government policies.

Lew says he reached out to them to explain and help them.

“It is to build better relationship (with people). It is difficult to explain government policy to them. The best way is to give daily essentials.

“I travelled all over Malaysia (to reach out to people),” he says, adding that he was assisted by a ground staff of 50 people at the time.

“We provided 1Malaysia T-shirts, then talk to them. This country can be safe for all, Indians, Chinese and Malays are all 1Malaysia,” he says.

Lew says that they had used face-to-face engagement to gather information on public sentiment to give to Najib, rather than computers and social media.

12.25pm: Shafee: Was this effective?

He notes that in the beginning, the people were very receptive to their approach when taking goodies, but sentiment on the ground changed later due to social media.

Lew: On the ground it looked positive, when they took our goodies, they changed their sentiment after some time. We need to repeatedly give them goodies.

12.27pm: The programmes stopped after GE14.

Lew: (We stopped the 1Malaysia promotion work) After the 14th general election. We were devastated. It was our dream to build 1Malaysia.

He reiterates that all the funds received from Najib were spent on welfare work for the poor and had not been misused.

Lew: This was all welfare work for the poor. Nothing goes back into our pockets.

Shafee: So this is welfare work? Nothing goes into people’s pocket?

Lew: No.

12.30pm: Najib was generous and gave Lew’s company the RM1 million.

Lew: I think he was satisfied with my work. He told me to continue.

Shafee ends the cross-examination and the witness is let go from the stand.

12.31pm: Najib associate Habibul Rahman Kadir Shah takes the stand. The 23rd witness, he describes himself as a business consultant and corporate advisor, with his company specialising in mergers and handovers.

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He is questioned on an RM2.5 million cheque from Najib.

To recap, Habibul’s name was mentioned last Wednesday when his lawyer Ashraf Abdul Razak took the stand.

Ashraf told the court Najib had issued a cheque for RM2.5 million to his law firm, although the money was meant for Habibul.

The lawyer said he had received instructions to disburse the money to Habibul’s wife and children.

Saifuddin begins his examination.

12.33pm: Habibul’s company is called HKS Primatrix Sdn Bhd.

He says he had appointed Ashraf, who was formerly a partner in Zulqarnain & Co, for personal matters.

12.34pm: Habibul says he received a cheque for RM2.5 million on February 2, 2015.

12.36pm: The cheque was made out to Zulqarnain & Co.

Habibul: I purposely requested for that because it will be deemed my own use. This money was used for political intel and political goodwill.

12.37pm: The list of recipients is with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

Habibul: It’s for the purpose of BN political benefits.

This was after he became prime minister, says Habibul, adding that he received the cheque personally from Najib.

12.40pm: Habibul informs Najib to issue the cheque under the Zulqarnain & Co law firm name.

Habibul: I asked the lawyer Ashraf to issue cheques to my wife and children because that is the reimbursement for the money I used on my own previously. The rest of the money was used for political intel and political goodwill.

12.42pm: Shafee begins his cross-examination.

Shafee: You became known as a political analyst.

Habibul: I don’t think. But that’s what people think about me.

12.44pm: Habibul says he provided analyses and advice to Najib.

Shafee: Did you ask where the source of the money was when you received the cheque?

Habibul: No. I believed it was from political donations. I didn’t ask because it’s a common fact since I joined Umno in 1984 that many people want to give political donations to the prime minister.

12.46pm: Shafee asks Habibul to give an explanation of political intel.

Habibul: In politics, you need a network to give you intel from time to time. Nobody gives you information for free. You need to be good with the division heads of parties so that they will help when you want to implement political strategy.

Shafee: Can you tell us some political defence operations you’ve done?

Habibul: No, I would not like to. It’s not black ops – it’s more like special ops. This was done to diffuse political threats.

Shafee: Do you do forecasting?

Habibul: I don’t do that.

12.50pm: Habibul refutes Ashraf’s testimony that the money was for a defence contract. He said he was not involved in a defence contract at all.

12.53pm: Shafee ends his cross-examination and the DPP lets the witness go.

12.55pm: Court stands down and will resume at 2.30pm.

2.30pm: Wedani Senen, 45, remittance department manager at AmBank head office, takes the stand.

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The 24th witness, Wedani says the remittance department is divided into Rentas and Swift.

She says Rentas is a BNM system for local bank to bank transfers. The minimum Rentas transaction is RM10,000. Swift is for incoming and outgoing overseas transactions.

She is questioned by DPP Sulaiman Koh on Rentas.

Wedani explains the intricacies of both systems.

Rentas is an acronym for Real Time Electronic Transfer of Funds and Securities. It is a payment system used to facilitate the transfer and settlement of large sums of money, such as high-value interbank funds and scriptless securities transactions.

Wedani says she was instructed on July 14, 2014, to transfer RM105 million from SRC to Putra Perdana, and that she verified the transaction was completed on the advice slip dated the same day.

3.05pm: A sum of RM2 billion was transferred from Kumpulan Wang Pekerjaan (KWAP) to SRC International’s account on Aug 26, 2011.

Sulaiman: Can you tell us about this confirmation advice, what is this document?

Wedani: This is confirmation advice of money credited from KWAP to AmIslamic Bank account.

Sulaiman: What is the amount?

Wedani: RM2 billion to SRC on Aug 26, 2011.

Sulaiman: Can you confirm that this confirmation advice was issued by AmBank’s Rentas Unit?

Wedani: Yes.

She continues verifying more Rentas transactions made to and from Ambank accounts.

3.30pm: Wedani Senen confirms that a second tranche of RM2 billion flowed from KWAP into SRC International’s bank account on March 28, 2012.

4.02pm: Court takes a recess of 10 minutes.

4.22pm: Court resumes with Wedani verifying money transfers from Gandingan Mentari to Ihsan Perdana and other documents related to SRC.

4.55pm: During examination-in-chief by Sulaiman, Wedani explains that bank officers of manager rank and below can only perform a Rentas transfer amounting to a maximum of RM500 million in each transaction.

Amounts above RM500 million can only be authorised by officers of senior manager rank and above, she testified.

Sulaiman: Why are there four thermal receipts for this RM2 billion transaction (in 2011)?

Wedani: The core banking system needs an official letter. For our limit, it is RM500 million, for manager and below.

Sulaiman: You mean, when this transfer was performed, the level of authorisation of the officer was at an RM500 million limit?

Wedani: Yes, correct.

Sulaiman: So to transfer the RM2 billion, it needed to be done in four transactions?

Wedani: Yes.

Sulaiman: Each (one comprising) RM500 million?

Wedani: Yes.

The witness is then asked about the RM2 billion transaction on March 28, 2012, and why was it credited in a single transaction.

Sulaiman: The documents that were shown to you, this RM2 billion to SRC (in 2012) but it was only in one receipt. Why is that?

Wedani: We received the money from KWAP at 5.40pm, and Bank Negara is closed at 6pm. So we had to transfer (the amount) in one lump sum. (And a) senior manager and above can (perform transaction of) this amount.

Sulaiman: So it requires the authorisation of a senior manager and above?

Wedani: Yes.

5.20pm: Sithambaram applies for the subsequent proceedings on Thursday to begin 30 minutes later than usual, as another hearing is set to take place on the same morning before Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

“On Thursday, the prosecution has a notice of motion before Justice Collin asking for this case (SRC International trial) to be completed before the 1MDB case.

“The hearing (before Lawrence’s court) is fixed at 9am,” Sithambaram tells Justice Nazlan.

Harvinderjit backs Sithambaram, saying they are unsure how long Thursday’s application will take.

Nazlan then allows the application for the SRC International trial to resume at 9.30am on Thursday this week.

According to a copy of the prosecution’s application for Thursday, it is seeking the postponement of the 1MDB trial, which is set to begin on May 14.

The court papers state that the postponement is necessary so that Najib’s defence would not be prejudiced due to multiple separate trials.

Court is adjourned for the day.

Earlier reports:

Apr 29, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 10

Apr 29, Court Throws Out Najib’s Application to Strike Out 7 SRC Charges, Trial to Go On

Apr 25, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day Nine

Apr 24, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day Eight

Apr 24, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day Seven

Apr 22, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day Six

Apr 18, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day Five

Apr 17, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day Four

Apr 16, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day Three

Apr 15, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day Two

Apr 3, Najib Trial: Day One