Najib’s SRC Trial: Day Five

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Responding to the defence’s objection of a witness taking the stand, Tommy Thomas says “every time the defence thinks there will be damning evidence against them, they raise objections and this is not right”.

Yesterday, the prosecution and defence sparred over the procurement of additional documents related to communications between three AmBank relationship managers – Joanna Yu, Daniel Lee and Krystle Yap – and 10 individuals, including Low Taek Jho and other former 1Malaysia Development Bhd lawyers.

The 10 are Jho Low; former SRC International CEO and director Nik Faisal Nik Ariff Kamil; former director Jerome Lee Tak Loong; former 1MDB finance executive director Terence Geh Choh Heng; former 1MDB general counsel Jasmine Loo Ai Swan; former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi; former SRC International CEO and president Mohammed Azhar Osman Khairuddin; former 1MDB CEO Ismee Ismail; former SRC International director Suboh Md Yasin and See Yok Peng.

Today’s Key Highlights:

  • Tendered in today’s proceedings, 14 cheques from Najib’s AmBank account, including RM300k to JB Umno and RM1 million to Penang Umno
  • 100k spent on building a store, pantry, rack and cabinet for storing clothes at Najib’s Langgak Duta home

Chronology of Events:

8.45am: Dressed in a dark blue suit, Najib arrives at the court complex in his familiar Proton Perdana bearing the TN50 number plate.

Lim Huey Teng/Malaysiakini

He greets a small group of supporters, before telling them that his feet hurt as he had been exercising the night before.

8.48am: Najib confers with his defence counsel Harvinderjit.

A short while later, his lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah enters the court and takes a seat at the front with other members of the defence team.

9.09am: Fourth prosecution witness, former Bank Negara investigating officer Ahmad Farhan Sharifuddin, 32, enters the court and takes a seat at the witness stand as proceedings begin. He is expected to produce the items he seized from Ambank banker Joanna Yu on July 6, 2016.

Yesterday, judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali allowed the defence’s application to compel Farhan to produce the items, which purportedly contain details of the conversation between Yu and fugitive businessperson Jho Low, a key figure in the 1MDB scandal.

9.10am: The court is in session. Prosecution comprises V Sithambaram and Suhaimi Ibrahim while Attorney-General Tommy Thomas is not present.

9.11am: Suhaimi allows Farhan to be temporarily released to take more time to gather the evidence sought by the defence.

Meanwhile, fifth witness Badrul Hisham Mohd, a senior manager at AmBank’s cheque processing centre, takes the stand.

Najjua Zulkefli/TMI

9.23am: Badrul explains the bank’s cheque-processing system, including forms and signature verification.

9.30am: Suhaimi questions the witness, who explains about the verification system used by PayNet or Payments Network Malaysia Sdn Bhd, a “middleman” for transfers between banks.

9.40am: Badrul testifies that cheques typically expire after six months and that unclaimed monies are kept for three years before being transferred to a consolidated trust account.

Bank Negara assigns a bank branch code – 211 – to the AmBank branch in Jalan Raja Chulan, Kuala Lumpur.

10.10am: DPP Saifuddin is verifying cheques and cheque images issued from Najib’s AmBank account 2022011906.

He asks Badrul to confirm whether a series of cheques from AmBank and AmIslamic were cashed.

Among these is a cheque to Solar Shine Sdn Bhd for RM1 million, dated Feb 17, 2015.

Badrul is granted more time to produce evidence.

10.25am: The following is a breakdown of the 17 AmIslamic cheques tendered in today’s proceedings by the prosecution, all of which were verified by Ambank’s Badrul.

From account number 2022011906 (owner’s identity not revealed thus far):

  • RM240,000 to Vital Spire Sdn Bhd, on Jan 30, 2015
  • RM2.5 million to Zulqarnain & Co, on Feb 2, 2015
  • RM300,000 to Centre for Strategic Engagement, Feb 8, 2015
  • RM13,800 to Manisah Othman, on Feb 12, 2015
  • RM50,000 to Padang Serai Umno chief Asmadi Abu Talib, on Feb 12, 2015
  • RM56,500 to MOZ Malaysia Sdn Bhd, on Feb 12, 2015
  • RM100,000 to ABS Trend Master Sdn Bhd, on Feb 12, 2015
  • RM238,914 to Lim Soon Peng, Feb 12, 2015
  • RM400,000 to trustees of Rumah Penyayang Tun Abdul Razak, on Feb 12, 2015
  • RM1 million to United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko), on Feb 13, 2015
  • RM1 million to Solar Shine Sdn Bhd, on Feb 17, 2015
  • RM77,300 to Syadilah Enterprise, on Feb 24
  • RM300,000 to Johor Bahru Umno, on Feb 26, 2015
  • RM1 million to Badan Perhubungan Umno Pulau Pinang, on Feb 26, 2015

From account number 2022011898 (owner’s identity not revealed thus far):

  • RM3.5 million to law firm Hafarizam Wan & Aisha Mubarak, on Jan 21, 2015

From SRC International Sdn Bhd account:

  • RM20 million to Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd, on Dec 12 2014
  • RM103,351.17 to Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd, on March 9, 2015

11.15am: Najib grabs a quick meal from the court cafeteria during the short recess.

Yasmin Ramlan/Malaysiakini

Despite the slew of charges he is facing, Najib still proves a hit among some members of the public, who rush to take selfies with him.

Najjua Zulkefli/TMI

11.25am: Court resumes with defence lawyer Harvinderjit Singh cross-examining Badrul about the finer points of the cheque-processing centre.

12.10pm: During cross-examination by Harvinderjit, Badrul is asked whether he can produce cheque images or other documents to confirm that the cheques originated from two AmBank accounts linked to the former premier.

Harvinderjit says that Badrul can either produce cheque images or a report confirming the transactions.

“We are asking (for the witness to produce the documentation), as these accounts are the subject of the charges (against Najib), and as we want to show that the cheques were cleared.

“I will be producing money trail charts, among others, during the course of the trial,” the lawyer explains.

The judge then directs the witness to produce at a later date the documents sought by the defence.

12.55pm: After more than an hour of cross-examining Badrul, the court breaks for lunch.

1.02pm: Najib leaves for lunch, smiling to reporters and supporters as he exits courts complex and gets into his car.

He is expected back in court in an hour’s time.

2.29pm: Najib arrives at the courts complex after his lunch break, and is accompanied to the fifth-floor courtroom by several of his supporters.

Proceedings resume with Sithambaram making an application to the judge for the trial to not be held tomorrow as both the defence and prosecution have prior engagements. Shafee agrees with the application. Both parties have a meeting, and Thomas says it is important because they are going to discuss the separation of powers of the A-G and government, so members of his team have to attend it.

2.38pm: Harvinderjit continues to cross-examine Badrul on the transactions involving Najib’s accounts with AmBank.

3.08pm: Badrul leaves the stand.

Designer Zulkarnain Mohamad, 46, from ABS Trend Master Sdn Bhd, which received RM100,000 from Najib’s accounts, is called up as the sixth prosecution witness. ABS Trend Master is a kitchen cabinet company.

3.14pm: Defence lawyer Farhan Read raises a preliminary objection for the witness not to take the stand. He argues that Zulkarnain’s testimony is not admissible, as it does not pass the threshold required by Section 5 of the Evidence Act. Farhan says the charges against Najib only involve him taking the money, and not giving the money, hence, the witness is not legally relevant.

“This witness cannot determine whether the accused has committed actus reus and mens rea.”

3.17pm: Shafee says the money spent is irrelevant to the case, which only involves the receipt of the funds.

3.21pm: DPP Saifuddin says the witness’ testimony will show the accused was aware he was committing an unlawful activity.

3.43pm: Thomas says every time the defence thinks there will be damning evidence against them, they raise objections, and this is not right.

Lim Huey Teng/Malaysiakini

“If we cannot call witnesses, the case will be stymied.”

3.53pm: Justice Nazlan rules that it is relevant to criminal breach of trust under the Penal Code, and Section 4(2) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, and allows the witness to be examined.

“I find evidence of the spending to be relevant to the case.”

4.10pm: Zulkarnain testifies that he was commissioned to build a store, pantry, rack and cabinet at Najib’s Langgak Duta home.

4.15pm: Under examination from Saifuddin, the witness says the money was paid for work that began in late 2014.

4.18pm: Zulkarnain says he quoted “RM234,000 or RM243,000” for the project, and cannot remember the right figure. He says the cabinet he built was for storing clothes, but he did not know whose clothes.

Najjua Zulkefli/TMI

4.22pm: Zulkarnain says he did not work when Najib was at home, only when the ex-PM had left the house.

4.23pm: “Once I got the cheque amounting to RM100,000, I banked the amount into my account. I wrote my name and account number at the back of the cheque,” says Zulkarnain.

Saifuddin asks: “So, you banked in the cheque?”

Zulkarnain replies, “We work for it… So, when we get money, we bank it in”, eliciting laughter in the courtroom.

4.34pm: Zulkarnain is excused from the stand.

4.36pm: The next witness is Zakaria, who runs plumbing company MOZ Malaysia and did some plumbing work at Najib’s Langgak Duta residence.

He says he was commissioned to change a 6,000l fibre tank in early 2015, and the final figure of the quotation given to Najib was RM56,500.

4.40pm: Zakaria says he has been on the Syabas panel since 2008 and does maintenance work, such as fixing pipes, for Syabas in Kuala Lumpur and Gombak.

He says he received a call from Syabas, informing him of water disruption at Najib’s house. He says he went to the house to check and suggested that the tank be changed.

4.42pm: Zakaria is shown an invoice, stating a sum of RM56,500, to verify to the court. He is also asked to verify the cheque issued to him, stating the same amount.

4.51pm: Saifuddin: What did you do with the cheque?

Zakaria: I banked it in.

4.54pm: Shafee: Was installing the tank a necessity or a luxury?

Zakaria: It had to be done.

Zakaria is excused from the stand.

4.55pm: The judge allows the trial to continue at 9am on Monday.

5pm: Najib leaves the courts complex. Some of his supporters escort him to his car. He does not take any questions from reporters, however.

Earlier reports:

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