Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 49

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Former bank manager denies covering up for Jho Low as suggested by defence counsel while former second finance minister testifies that Najib told him not to interfere in 1MDB.

8.58am: Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak arrives in court in a black suit with his aides.

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9.01am: He enters the court and takes a seat in the front row of the public gallery.

Also seen in court awaiting the beginning of proceedings are Attorney-General Tommy Thomas and deputy public prosecutors, as well as Najib’s lawyer Harvinderjit Singh and other members of the defence team.

9.09am: Najib enters the dock as proceedings begin.

9.11am: The hearing starts with Harvinderjit telling the court that Najib has to appear before the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya tomorrow morning.

This is in relation to the former premier’s bid to recuse Gopal Sri Ram from leading the prosecution in the 1MDB trial.

This is supported by Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, who tells the court that it would be convenient if the proceedings tomorrow began at 2pm.

Harvinderjit then proceeds with his cross-examination of former AmBank customer relationship manager Joanna Yu.

9.18am: Yu disagrees that Jho Low had kept Najib in the dark over fund transfers to and from his bank accounts.

She tells Harvinderjit this when he cross-examines her over Low’s various actions related to Najib’s AmBank accounts between 2011 and 2015.

Harvinderjit: The various actions of Low were all designed to ensure Najib was never told of the accurate balance in the accounts?

Yu: I disagree, but I do not know.

Harvinderjit: Low’s actions in regard to the accounts were designed to make Najib believe that there were sufficient funds in the accounts to issue checks?

Yu: There may have been discussions, but I do not know (for sure).

9.25am: Harvinderjit asks her about two platinum credit cards under Najib’s name.

9.27am: The standing instruction for the credit card statements was to auto debit from the ‘694’ current account. In August 2014, the instruction was changed to auto debit from the ‘880’ account.

9.29am: Harvinderjit is going through instances where the auto debit for the cards did not go through from the ‘880’ account because of insufficient funds.

9.32am: Yu denies covering up for Low.

She also rejects Harvinderjit’s claim that she was contacted by Low over the last few days.

Harvinderjit: You are trying to cover up for Low?

Yu: No.

Harvinderjit: You have been in communication with him over the past few days?

Yu: No.

Yu is asked the question because she earlier hesitated to answer a query if Low was a liar.

9.34am: Prosecutor V Sithambaram says Harvinderjit is badgering the witness. He calls Harvinderjit intimidating.

9.35am: Yu says she doesn’t know if Low is dishonest but he did hide some facts from her.

9.40am: Telling the court that he is reaching the end of his cross-examination of Yu, Harvinderjit then requests for a financial document to be marked as evidence.

It is learned that the document is a financial statement from Putra Perdana Bhd, which the defence used in their questioning of Yu yesterday regarding the ‘reversal’ of fund transfers from two of Najib’s accounts in 2014.

The prosecution objects to the request, citing issues regarding fulfilment of clauses under the Evidence Act 1950.

Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali tells the defence to address the legal issues first before securing permission to tender the documents as evidence.

The court then takes a short break following requests by both the defence and prosecution to go through some documents and prepare for re-examination respectively.

10.20am: Court resumes with lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah continuing the cross-examination. Yu says if there were complaints about any accounts, it would be escalated to AmBank’s compliance department and the compliance manager would escalate it to Bank Negara.

10.31am: Yu says she didn’t raise any issue on the management of the accounts with the compliance department.

10.33am: Shafee asks her if she had been suspicious of the nature of the amount of money coming into the accounts.

Yu: It’s a lot, and we raised it to remittance, and they said it’s all reported

Shafee: What does it mean that they have reported?

Yu: They reported (the remittance) to Bank Negara, so, I just left it at that.

Shafee: If Bank Negara has queried about the accounts, you would and should know.

Yu: If they did, yes. Yes, I would know.

10.35am: Yu says that she can’t remember if she had received any queries from Bank Negara regarding the accounts before the raid in July 2015.

Yu also admits that to the best of her knowledge as liaison for the accounts, the only time the accounts were flagged by Bank Negara was when they were overdrawn, which resulted in AmBank wanting to close the accounts.

The defence then finishes their cross-examination of Yu.

Prosecutor V Sithambaram then starts re-examining the witness.

Sithambaram: You recall in the cross, they asked if the bank had asked you to leave. Without going into the terms of your settlement with the bank, we are going to touch on it.

When AmBank asked you to leave, did you take the bank to the Industrial Court?

Yu: I filed a complaint with the Industrial Court.

Sithambaram: The case was called up there?

Yu: There was a case mention.

Sithambaram: Before the matter came up, there was a confidential agreement with no admission of liability between you and the bank, and this was recorded in (Industrial) Court?

Yu: Yes.

10.42am: When asked by Sithambaram, Yu says there are no contradictions between her previous witness statements and the one used in court last week.

10.43am: Sithambaram says the defence had put it to her that Najib was not aware of the RM42 million in his accounts.

Sithambaram: You remember this?

Yu: Yes, I do.

Sithambaram: If I ask you to total all the credits into Najib’s account and all the debits from this account. By this, I mean the three current accounts that were opened and closed in 2013 to 2015. For the ‘898’ account the total credit was RM109 million there was debit of RM109 million also. RM205 million was debited and credited into account ending in ‘906’. For the ‘808’ account there was approximately RM292 million. There was a cumulative of RM600 million in his accounts.

Yu agrees to these accounts.

10.54am: Sithambaram earlier said that these are accounts he prepared to walk the witness through them.

Harvinderjit tells judge Nazlan that their accounts are wrong, but Sithambaram cuts him off and tells him to make a submission later.

11am: Yu believes that Low was in contact with Najib on the latter’s bank accounts operations.

Yu says that Najib should know the amounts transacted in his accounts as he kept issuing cheques.

She adds that to the best of her knowledge, there were no complaints that the cheques from Najib’s accounts were not issued by him.

There were also no queries from Najib on the source of funds in the accounts as he kept issuing cheques, Yu says.

Sithambaram: Has there been any knowledge that any cheques issued by Najib were not issued by him?

Yu: No, I don’t think so.

Sithambaram: Is there any evidence that Low had utilised the money from Najib’s accounts. Was any cheque made out to Low?

Yu: No. No.

Sithambaram: Now we come to Nik Faisal. Did he transfer any money out of his accounts for himself?

Yu: No, he did not.

Sithambaram: Did you personally utilise any of the funds in the accounts for your benefit?

Yu: No, I did not.

Sithambaram: Had the account holder ever queried or written to the bank, that he had RM200 million in his accounts but he spent RM395 million?

Yu: No.

Sithambaram: On the facts, is it possible for a person not to know that there’s RM395 million in his accounts.

Yu: If he wrote the cheques, he should know the money is there.

Sithambaram: Now I’ll come to the BlackBerry chats. In your (cross) examination, your chats showed that Najib knew that Jho Low was communicating with the bank with regards to his accounts. In one of your chats, Jho Low tells you that “Boss says he wrote a big cheque”.

Boss is Najib in this instance.

Yu agrees.

11.09am: Sithambaram asks Yu why she had contacted Low when Najib had charged RM3 million to his credit cards in Italy.

She says the credit card department had alerted her that the card had been charged in 24 transactions in Italy, and she messaged Low to verify if Najib had been using the card. She said she was worried that someone else might be using his card.

Yu says she was under the impression that Najib’s card was being fraudulently used in Italy, and this is why she messaged Low to verify.

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11.17am: She says to her knowledge ‘MNR’ stands for Najib Razak.

11.18am: They are now going over Najib’s use of US$130,000 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Yu agrees that he had used his credit card for that transaction.

11.22am: She says she had never received oral instructions from Najib on any of his accounts.

Sithambaram: These accounts involve large sums of money. Has there been any time any query from Najib on the conduct of the accounts?

Yu: No, there never were ever any queries or complaints made.

Sithambaram: When the accounts were closed, was there any lawsuit against the bank for wrongful utilisation of funds in the accounts?

Yu: None.

Sithambaram: If Jho Low did not help transfer cash into his account, would the cheques issued by Najib be cleared?

Yu: No, some of them would have been declined.

Sithambaram: There were some questions asked of you to not bounce cheques.

Yu: There were several requests.

Sithambaram: Who reminded you constantly that Najib’s cheques should not bounce?

Yu: Jho Low and Nik Faisal.

Sithambaram: What was your business for you to take Jho Low’s instruction to not bounce Najib’s cheques. Do you realise it’s a serious crime?

Yu: He was the prime minister of Malaysia, it’s a discredit to him if his cheque bounced, it would look bad.

Sithambaram: Was it your function to see to this?

Yu: No, we actually could have not done anything and let it bounce.

Sithambaram: Is it common to prepare draft letters for clients?

Yu: We do help customers when they want money to buy stuff.

Sithambaram: I have to ask, does Nik Faisal read and write?

Yu: Yes, yes he does.

Sithambaram: Are you aware that Nik Faisal was appointed CEO of SRC International by Najib?

Yu: I don’t know. I’m not aware.

Sithambaram: It puzzles me that you have this role in these accounts.

Yu: I was there when these accounts were opened.

Sithambaram goes through a chat between Yu and Low where she sends him birthday greetings. She says Low’s birthday is in November.

Sithambaram: Can you 100% confirm the correctness of these chats. Can you confirm the date and time?

Yu: I can’t say.

Sithambaram: Do you know where the defence got these chats?

Yu: I’m not aware.

She says she doesn’t know when the chats were produced or where they came from.

12.09pm: Sithambaram continues his re-examination after a short break.

12.10pm: Yu says Nik Faisal is not allowed to take any money out of Najib’s accounts.

12.14pm: Sithambaram refers to a chat log where Low refers to Najib as “OP”.

Yu says “OP” meant Optimus Prime, as a nickname for Najib.

Sithambaram ends his examination and Yu is let go from the stand.

12.15pm: The prosecution requests for an early lunch break.

Sithambaram tells the court that their next witness has gone to have lunch.

He suggests for the court to resume at 2pm instead of the usual 2.30pm due to the early lunch.

2.12pm: As proceedings resume, 56th witness and former second finance minister Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah takes the stand for examination-in-chief by the prosecution.

2.20pm: The court hears from Husni that he had raised his concerns over SRC’s application for a large loan from the Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP).

Husni says he then went to meet Najib after a cabinet meeting, where ministers were briefed by then-minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nor Mohamad Yakcop about SRC’s RM2 billion application.

Husni did not specify whether the cabinet meeting was in 2011 or 2012, but it is believed this was in 2011 when SRC first acquired its first RM2 billion tranche of the loan from KWAP.

He says that he queried Najib, who was also finance minister at the time, on the huge sum to be loaned on government guarantee to the then 1MDB subsidiary.

Husni says he was informed by Najib that the company was needed to empower the country’s electricity industry through government ownership of a company that invests in coal mining.

“I then told Najib that coal mining should be left to the private sector instead of involvement by a government-owned company.

“Najib then told me that only with government involvement that the electricity sector can be empowered through coal mining,” he added.

2.25pm: The court hears from Husni that Najib did not approve his request to take Finance Ministry, Bank Negara and Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) officers to Switzerland.

The trip was aimed at proving that SRC funds frozen in the country belonged to KWAP.

Husni says his attempts to get documents related to SRC investments in Java, Mongolia, Switzerland and Hong Kong were also unsuccessful, despite a request made by his officer.

“I learnt from Finance Ministry officers that a sum of RM4 billion, which is the total amount of loan from KWAP, was used in, among others, investment in the coal business in Java, investment in natural resources in Mongolia, and savings in banks in Switzerland and Hong Kong.

“At that time, I was not referred to and was not given documents regarding SRC and the investments, despite having through my officer requested for them from SRC.

“I asked Mohd Isa Hussain, who was then the Investment Division secretary, to make a visit to Java to make sure the investment does exist there, but Isa did not go.

2.30pm: Husni, who is retired, says he was appointed by Najib in 2009 and resigned from the post on June 27, 2016.

2.35pm: Husni says his duties as second finance minister include managing and carrying out budgetary expenditure as directed by the then prime minister and finance minister, who was Najib.

Husni says he met Najib in 2009 and told him that a feasibility study needs to be carried before forming 1MDB, which would normally take ten years.

Najib replied to him, “I know what I’m doing.”

Husni says he opposed the PetroSaudi-1MDB joint venture and he told Najib in another meeting in 2009 that 1MDB did not have the expertise.

He says Najib told him to “Go back home. I don’t want you to interfere in 1MDB.”

2.45pm: Husni likened himself to an “office boy” in the decision to grant the government guarantee for the first RM2 billion loan to SRC.

Husni says this during examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor Muhammad Izzat Fauzan.

“In regards to the first loan (guarantee) of RM2 billion, why was it not run by me? Why not?

“That is why I say that I was like a mere office boy when the decision was made,” Husni says.

A government guarantee was issued for the first RM2 billion tranche of the loan from Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) to SRC International in late 2014.

2.50pm: Husni tells the court that SRC was the only GLC whose CEO did not show up even when summoned.

Appearing upset when he is relating this to the court, Husni says other officials, including those of higher stature than former SRC CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, came to his office when he called them for a meeting.

He says this when testifying under examination-in-chief by DPP Izzat on the approval for a government guarantee on the first RM2 billion from KWAP to SRC.

“I believe that the decision was made by (then-premier) Najib Abdul Razak. Why do I say that?

“All along, since the Terengganu Investment Authority, then 1MDB, and SRC International… I have never received any documents. I have never seen the officers.

“The CEO did not come to see me even when I called him.

“I’m telling you, My Lord, even the governor of Bank Negara came to see me. Much higher than the SRC International CEO.

“Bursa Malaysia’s Tajuddin Atan, and then banks, even Petronas, Azmi Abdul Aziz of Prasarana came.

“But this one couldn’t come,” he says.

2.55pm: Najib autocratic in matters related to SRC, Husni testifies.

He says that despite being the second finance minister at the time, his role in matters concerning SRC was merely to follow orders.

When Izzat asks him if he had studied SRC’s investments, Husni says that it was not something he could do, as he did not receive any documents related to the company.

“How do I study (the company)? There were no documents whatsoever. Even its CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil did not want to see me.

“There was only once when he came to my office, but he did not bring any documents. After that, he never met me again.

“The work culture when it involved SRC International and 1MDB was totally different than the other companies (under the Finance Ministry).

Shafee objects to the prosecution’s line of questioning.

“I think this is getting completely out of line from SRC International. I don’t think the witness should go into any area that is not relevant,” said Shafee.

Judge Nazlan tells the prosecution to move on to the next question.

3pm: Husni testifies that he wanted to appoint then-Finance Ministry Investment Division secretary Mohd Isa Hussain onto the SRC board in 2015.

Husni tells the court that this was an effort to ensure due diligence and protect the government from wrongdoing.

“This was part of our efforts because there was no company under the Minister of Finance Inc that does not have a board member (from the ministry).

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“This SRC International, it got an RM4 billion. Where did it go?”

Husni then makes reference to some of SRC’s actions – including depositing its funds in Switzerland and Hong Kong, and investing in coal in Java and Mongolia – which he describes as unstructured.

“This means it was not structured. Other MOF Inc subsidiaries, for example, Syarikat Perumahan Negara Bhd, it makes houses.

“But this one, what did it do? As someone who did not want the government to fail, we did not want to see wrongdoings in the government.

“That is why I wanted a representative of MOF (in SRC International),” he says.

3.09pm: The court erupts in laughter when Husni describes Najib as “always smiling.”

He says this during examination in chief by Izzat.

Izzat: Can you identify Najib in court today?

Husni: Ha…the one at the back there, always smiling.

3.17pm: Shafee submits that Husni’s testimony has departed from the witness statement.

The lawyer describes Husni’s testimony “almost like an angry man” and said he needs to confer with Najib on the manner in which the cross-examination would be carried out.

Shafee is seeking to adjourn the trial for the day, so the defence can prepare their cross-examination.

Sithambaram: I concede that the witness testimony is slightly longer (than the statement). I submit they are not surprised based on previous documents. We are not taking them by surprise.

Shafee says the defence is not unhappy with the documents tendered but with the “twist” the witness has added to them.

3.25pm: “His testimony is that his actions were like a gun was held to his head. Going by the witness statement there are issues we are going to raise. About two hours maximum. But going by the twist the witness added to the documents tendered, it will take slightly longer. I don’t think anyone of us has heard it (testimony on documents).

“We are taken by surprise. And we need just a little bit of time to prepare. We are at the closing stages of the prosecution case,” Shafee says.

Sithambaram says the final witness, an MACC investigating officer, is not ready to testify and is slated to testify earliest by tomorrow afternoon.

Shafee then argues that “speed is the biggest enemy of justice”, adding that preparation would shorten the defence’s cross-examination of the witness.

Judge Nazlan adjourns the hearing to Thursday, 9am.


 

Earlier reports:

Aug 5, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 48

Aug 1, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 47

July 31, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 46

July 29, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 45

July 25, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 44

July 24, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 43 Vacated

July 23, Najib’s SRC Trial: Day 42

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