Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 42

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1MDB scandal cost AmBank manager her job.

11am: Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex, and gets a warm birthday greeting from about 50 supporters, who had been waiting in the lobby since early this morning.

Carrying a chocolate cake, the supporters sang the birthday song to celebrate Najib’s 66th birthday.

Among those present is MIC deputy president M Saravanan.

11.04am: Najib enters the courtroom and takes a seat at the front row of the public gallery.

Hari Anggara

Earlier this morning, Najib withdrew his appeal against the allegedly defective SRC International charges at the Court of Appeal.

Also seen in court are Attorney-General Tommy Thomas and other members of the prosecution, as well as Najib’s counsel Harvinderjit Singh and other members of the defence.

11.19am: Najib enters the dock as proceedings begin.

Also seen among the defence lawyers is lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

11.30am: Proceedings kick off with Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali hearing three applications.

The first is on the prosecution’s bid to have Najib apologise for Facebook posts that are said to have touched on trial-related matters.

Both sides give short submissions on whether the posts constitute wrongdoing on Najib’s part.

Shafee argues that an apology would be tantamount to an admission of wrongdoing, although none has been established against his client yet.

Shafee also terms the submission from Thomas – that the Facebook posts are sub judice in nature, but not in contempt of court – an “odd creature.”

Continuing with the analogy, the lawyer says that sub judice is a “subspecies” of contempt.

Thomas then seeks direction from the court on whether the prosecution needs to file a formal application for an order to be issued against Najib.

Nazlan says that this would be a better option, as the defence has not taken up the offer to apologise.

Shafee makes the second submission which seeks to obtain a court order to overturn a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) directive to AmBank to stop giving Najib information on his accounts, which the lawyers have described as violating their client’s rights.

11.33am: Shafee argues that the MACC has to give clearance before Najib can get his bank statements.

Shafee cites an example of MACC delaying a request for past statements until it was compelled by the court to give them the statements.

11.35am: Sithambaram says AmBank in a letter dated May 15 this year, refused a request from Najib for specific documents.

AmBank refused to provide the documents before going through MACC’s vetting but the documents were eventually furnished to the defence.

11.37am: Sithambaram says this is not the forum to seek documents if they’re going to be used as part of this trial.

The application should be directed at the MACC, not the court.

11.39am: Harvinderjit accuses the prosecution of a concerted effort to scuttle the defence’s case. He says that there is no provision where it can deny an account holder the right to his account.

Harvinderjit is asking for the AGC to prepare a letter that states that the defence doesn’t need to obtain MACC’s approval before obtaining Najib’s account statements.

11.55am: Nazlan asks what’s the MACC’s position if the defence requests more documents.

Sithambaram says they just want to see what the defence is requesting. The judiciary shouldn’t interfere in investigations, he says, although the defence argues that the investigations are over.

11.58am: Sithambaram says the investigation in this case isn’t over yet.

12.12pm: Shafee says they shouldn’t be stopped from doing their homework on the case.

Nazlan says he will hand down a decision after lunch.

12.17pm: The third application for the day is on the validity of the witness statement by former AmBank relationship manager and current witness Joanna Yu.

Her statement, which the defence received in January, differed from the final statement she made earlier this month.

Sithambaram argues that the statement with her signature is the one they should go by.

12.51pm: Nazlan says he will make his decisions after lunch.

Court breaks for lunch.

2.44pm: Proceedings resume after the lunch break.

2.46pm: Nazlan makes his decision on the second application. He says the investigation is no way affected if documents are given to the defence. He says MACC should not prevent the bank from providing Najib with copies of his account and statements.

On the third application, Nazlan overrules the prosecution’s objection to Yu’s statement.

2.49pm: Yu takes the stand. Harvinderjit begins his cross-examination.

Yu is asked if she met anyone in the past 24 hours to discuss the trial. She says no.

2.53pm: She is asked about her statement recorded by MACC. She is shown the first draft of her witness statement in January.

They go through the differences between the draft and the statement that she signed and read in court yesterday.

2.56pm: In her statement yesterday, Yu said she met Low in 2010, and Najib was directly involved in 1MDB. But in the draft, she said Najib was chairman of 1MDB’s board of advisers.

Harvinderjit asks her why she changed her statement. She says she did so because she wanted to be specific.

3.05pm: Harvinderjit asks Yu to clarify her statement.

Harvinderjit: Is it your position that in relation to the accounts, you did not follow the instructions of Jho Low. Yes or no?

Yu: I did follow when he said “Don’t let the cheque bounce”. That was it.

Harvinderjit: For these four accounts, you continuously followed instructions from Jho Low. Agree or disagree?

Yu: I don’t get your question.

Azneal Ishak/Malaysiakini

Harvinderjit: Jho Low, on numerous occasions, instructed you to email Nik Faisal. Did you comply?

Yu: Yes.

Harvinderjit suggests that Yu was the liaison between Low and Nik Faisal. She says they did not need her to be a liaison.

3.09pm: Harvinderjit: You took instructions from Jho Low and carried them to Nik Faisal. Agree or disagree?

Yu: No. they were in contact with each other.

Harvinderjit: Do you agree that you were getting actual instructions from Jho Low, although you needed written instructions from Nik Faisal?

Yu: We only act on written (instructions). We can only act on written (instructions).

Harvinderjit: I’m not asking you that. I’m telling you that you took instructions from Jho Low, and sent them to Nik Faisal?

Yu: No.

Harvinderjit: Were there letters drafted by you on behalf of Nik Faisal and sent to him to sign?

Yu: Yes.

She explains that she helped draft the letters for Faisal, as he did not know how to do so. He would always go through them and sign them, she says.

3.14pm: Deputy public prosecutor Budiman Lutfi Mohamed objects to Harvinderjit’s line of cross-examination – specifically, his cutting off Yu’s attempts to answer his questions.

“Perhaps counsel (Harvinderjit) should be more gentle with the witness,” Budiman says.

Harvinderjit says: “I’ve tried the easy way. Now, I have to go the hard way.”

Nazlan then reminds Yu to only provide ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers to Harvinderjit’s questions, unless the lawyer seeks further clarification.

Yu is being questioned over differences in the draft and tendered versions of her witness statement.

3.24pm: The atmosphere in court heats up as Harvinderjit calls Sithambaram “pedantic.”

Sithambaram replies by calling Harvinderjit “pathetic.”

The exchange takes place after Harvinderjit’s grilling of Yu.

Nazlan tells both Harvinderjit and Sithambaram to “avoid that kind of description in this court.”

3.27pm: Harvinderjit carries on with his cross-examination of Yu.

Harvinderjit: Each one of your chats with Jho Low was when you couldn’t get to Nik Faisal?

Yu: It may not be so.

Harvinderjit: Can you read your witness statement and confirm with me that Nik Faisal was uncontactable?

Yu: It doesn’t say that here.

Harvinderjit: So, you didn’t say he was uncontactable.

Yu: No.

Yu says the words in her statement were written by her on a computer. She says the initial draft of the witness statement does not tell the whole story.

3.30pm: Yu tells the court that Jho Low was her go-to person when Najib’s accounts had insufficient funds to carry out transactions.

Under cross-examination by Harvinderjit, Yu says Faisal was her contact in cases where funds only needed to be transferred between Najib’s three AmBank accounts.

This is because Faisal, the former SRC International CEO, could instruct such transfers as he was the mandate holder for Najib’s accounts.

Yu tells the court that in cases where she could not get hold of Faisal, she would contact Low.

Harvinderjit: So my point is this, I’ll put it this way. Your first point of contact with regards to account overdrawn (situations) was Low first? Agree?

Yu: Not entirely.

Harvinderjit: Which part don’t you agree with?

Yu: If there are funds (but they are) just in different accounts, we would contact Nik Faisal. No need for anybody else. He can instruct transfers (between the accounts).

Harvinderjit: (So you contacted Low when) either (the accounts) had not enough balance, or when you could not contact Nik Faisal?

Yu: Yes.

3.45pm: Yu agrees with Harvinderjit’s assertion that she was asked to leave due to her involvement with the accounts of Najib.

The court previously heard that on July 6, 2015, the Jalan Raja Chulan branch of AmBank was raided by Bank Negara, which seized documents related to Najib’s accounts, among others.

Yu says that she read in the papers that AmBank was fined over its failure to file a suspicious transaction report (STR).

Yu: I left in 2015. I read in the newspaper that they (AmBank) were fined. I was asked to leave.

Harvinderjit: Was it due to your involvement with Najib’s accounts?

Yu: They (AmBank) were put under a lot of pressure.

At this juncture, Sithambaram stands up and reminds Harvinderjit that Yu has signed a confidentiality agreement.

The defence lawyer then agrees not to pursue the matter any further.

Current and former bank staff are required to sign non-disclosure agreements related to banking operations. Breaching this NDA may subject them to stiff penalties.

4.10pm: Court adjourns for a short break.

4.30pm: The hearing resumes after the break.

4.31pm: Harvinderjit questions Yu about her relationship with Yayasan Rakyat 1Malaysia (YR1M) former CEO Ung Su Ling.

He is referring to chats between Yu and Ung where they referred to someone known as “our friend”.

Yu says “our friend” could be referring to Low or Terence Geh as it was in reference to 1MDB transactions.

5pm: Harvinderjit talks to Yu about a supposed chat group in which Low, Ung and her were in, where Low instructed Ung to remove cash from related accounts.

5.05pm: Harvinderjit shows Yu an email Low sent her and others where Low made himself to be a special adviser to the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) and wrote of his intention to start an email chain about TIA transactions.

5.15pm: They are going through BlackBerry messenger chats Yu had with Low.

In one of the chats, Low relayed to Yu that, “He doesn’t want to close it”.

She says it was in relation to Najib not wanting to close his AmBank accounts that were constantly overdrawn.

5.20pm: Court is adjourned. Trial resumes at 9am tomorrow.

Earlier reports:

July 22, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 41

July 18, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 40

July 17, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 39

July 16, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 38

July 15, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 37

July 11, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 36

July 10, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 35

July 9, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 34

July 8, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 33

July 3, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 32

July 3, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 31

July 1, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 30

June 20, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 29

June 19, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 28

June 18, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 27

June 17, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 26

June 14, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 25

June 13, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 24

June 12, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 23

June 11, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 22

June 10, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 21

May 28, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 20

May 27, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 19

May 15, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 18

May 14, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 17

May 9, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 16

May 8, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 15

May 7, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 14

May 7, Najib Fails in Second Bid to Remove Sri Ram as 1MDB Lead Prosecutor

May 7, Najib Signed Guarantee Letter for RM2B KWAP Loan to SRC, KWAP Rules Breached

May 6, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 13

May 2, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 12

May 2, RM1M Golden Handshake in Final Month as PM for Najib

Apr 30, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 11

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