Najib’s SRC Trial: Day Nine

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Today’s trial reveals that Najib signed a declaration to assume responsibility and liability for all transactions in three accounts at AmBank that were opened under his name.

Chronology of Events:

8.55am: Clad in a dark blue suit, Najib takes a seat at the front row in court as he awaits the ninth day of his trial to begin.

Azneal Ishak/Malaysiakini

Two cushions and a bottle of water are seen in the dock, where Najib will be seated during proceedings.

9.08am: Najib enters the dock as Justice Nazlan enters the courtroom to begin proceedings.

9.10am: DPP Suhaimi introduces members of the prosecution and defence for the day.

The defence team, however, is missing its lead counsel Shafee.

Defence counsel Harvinderjit tells the court that Shafee is still on his way, but they understand if the court wants to proceed without waiting for him.

The hearing starts with prosecution’s 21st witness R Uma Devi, who is AmBank’s Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager, returning to the witness stand.

Shafee arrives a few minutes later.

Firdaus Latif

9.35am: The court hears from Uma that a cheque for RM3.5 million was issued from Najib’s AmBank account to an account belonging to Hafarizam Wan Aisha Mubarak.

The cheque dated Jan 21, 2015, was debited to the recipient’s account on Jan 22, 2015.

However, according to Uma, the bank made a mistake, which saw only RM3,500 credited into the recipient’s account.

“I was informed that there was an action to rectify (the mistake), but I am not sure what was the action taken by the cheque processing centre in AmBank,” she tells the court.

Uma then testifies that in March 2015, Najib ordered for the closure of three of his AmBank accounts, which he had opened on July 31, 2013.

She testifies that the three accounts had a total balance of RM103,361.17 when it was closed.

According to Uma, in the letter requesting for closure of the accounts dated March 3, 2015, Najib had also instructed the bank to transfer all the balances to Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd’s bank account.

Ihsan Perdana is a subsidiary of SRC International.

This instruction was carried out by the bank through a cheque dated March 9, 2015, she says.

Earlier, Uma in her testimony spoke about transfers of millions of ringgit between the three accounts prior to the closures.

These transfers, according to her, were made under the order of Nik Faisal Ariff, an authorized signatory for the accounts.

Another cheque for RM103,351.17 was issued to SRC International’s corporate responsibility arm Ihsan Perdana on March 9, 2015.

9.40am: Uma makes amendments to the statement, correcting one transfer date from February 10, 2019, to February 10, 2015, and one transfer amount from RM100,000 to RM1 million.

9.43am: Uma signs the finalised amendments before the paragraphs are submitted as evidence.

9.45am: DPP Suhaimi asks Uma if she remembers where she was on the day of the central bank raid on July 6, 2015.

She says she was at the bank branch in Jalan Raja Chulan.

9.48am: Uma clarifies that “it wasn’t so much of a raid”, adding that Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) officers came to the branch and asked for the branch manager. She brought them to the 29th floor.

Suhaimi asks if the officers asked for any particular document. Uma replies that they requested for account opening documents for some names they had given.

He shows Uma some documents and while questioning her makes references to what another witness said previously.

Harvinderjit interjects saying that you can’t refer to what another witness says while questioning one.

Suhaimi then asks Uma what happened on July 6, 2015. Uma replies that the bank staff retrieved information on the files on the accounts held by customers that the BNM officers requested for.

The DPP asks what files were passed. She said she can’t remember clearly but did sign an acknowledgement letter from a Bank Negara officer, signed as Azizul Adzani Abdul Ghafar.

10.06am: Uma reads out a transaction and confirms an RM5 million transaction on December 29, 2014, from an AmPrivate account ending with 906 to Putra Perdana via a Maybank account ending with 186.

10.20am: Reading from an SRC International account transaction records, Uma said it showed four credits and three debits.

The records show that RM500 million was credited four times – totalling RM2 billion.

The three debit entries show two debits amounting to RM500 million and one debit amounting to RM1 billion, totalling RM2 billion.

10.25am: Uma says RM5 million was debited twice – once on February 5, 2015, and the next day.

Then looking at Gandingan Mentari accounts, Uma says the same amount was credited into its account on the same dates.

10.40am: During examination-in-chief by DPP Sithambaram, Uma testifies that Ambank did not receive any discrepancy alert from Najib with regard to his three bank accounts ending 906, 880 and 898.

Sithambaram: How often are bank statements given to (AmBank) customers?

Uma: (On) a monthly basis.

Sithambaram: When you send statements to customers, what is the duty of the customers?

Uma: (The duty of customers) is to check the transactions (in their statement), and within 14 days to come back to the bank if there is any discrepancy whatsoever.

Sithambaram: And as bank manager of AmBank Jalan Raja Chulan, after you took charge of the branch, are you aware or filed any records of any notification by Datuk Seri Najib to AmBank notifying of any errors, discrepancies, irregularities, unauthorised withdrawals, debits, fraudulent transactions or entries made without mandate?

Lim Huey Teng/Malaysiakini

Uma: To my knowledge and record that I had, no.

10.45am: Sithambaram: Any complaint by Najib as to how these three accounts are managed?

Uma: No.

10.57am: Uma confirms that Nik Faisal was given the mandate by Najib to issue credit and transfer instructions in relation to the latter’s three AmPrivate accounts.

11am: Referring to the other SRC International account records (there are two), Uma says on November 30, 2011, there was a credit transfer of RM500 million.

On March 28, 2012, there was a credit transfer of RM2 billion.

Two days later, there was a debit transfer of RM2 billion.

11.22am: Uma’s statement shows that RM4 billion was transferred from SRC International through Gandigan Mentari in March 2012 and RM37 million was transferred to Najib’s personal accounts between 2014-2015.

11.27am: Uma denies that Bank Negara investigating officer Azizul Adzani Abdul Ghafar only gave her account numbers that the central bank sought during its raid at the branch on July 6, 2015.

During cross-examination by defence counsel Harvinderjit, Uma acknowledges that her account of events is different from the testimony by Azizul, who was the trial’s second witness.

Harvinderjit: Were you aware of what witness Azizul informed the court?

Uma: I read through the news feeds.

Harvinderjit: While you were conversing (with DPP Sulaiman and Suhaimi in a meeting last week), you knew what Azizul had said is not the same as you are saying (now).

Uma: Yes.

Harvinderjit: Azizul told the court that he only gave you the account numbers. You know that is not true?

Uma: Yes.

Harvinderjit: This was discussed with (DPPs) Suhaimi, Sulaiman and Sithambaram?

Uma: It was mentioned.

Harvinderjit: Your position is different?

Uma: Yes

Last week, during cross-examination by Harvinderjit, Azizul said that he only gave Uma account numbers during the raid and denied that he had asked the bank manager for details on specific transactions of accounts.

Lim Huey Teng/Malaysiakini

11.30am: Uma says after checking the witness statement provided by the prosecution she made changes to the witness statement on numbers and also some typos, but she did not bring the document home as it was “highly confidential” and she was afraid that she might misplace it.

11.35am: Harvinderjit asks to see the changes.

Sithambaram objects, saying that no statements that have been signed can be shown in court. It’s a draft. It cannot be shown as evidence.

12.11pm: Uma says she joined AmBank in 2012 as manager. Prior to this, she was with EON Bank (2009-2012); Royal Bank of Scotland (2008-2009) and OCBC (2004-2008).

Najjua Zulkefli/TMI

12.15pm: Uma says she has no personal knowledge of what transpired in accounts at the branch prior to July 1, 2015.

She says she was transferred to the branch on July 1 that year.

Harvinderjit: Your testimony (during examination-in-chief when she read out from a witness statement) were only based on (bank) documents retrieved by you?

Uma: Yes.

To Harvinderjit’s question if she had personally seen Najib or witnessed him signing documents in front of her, Uma answers in the negative.

She tells the lawyer that she has also never seen SRC International directors Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil Nik Othman Arif Kamil or Suboh Md Yassin sign documents in front of her.

12.20pm: Harvinderjit asks Uma if she had to retrieve accounts for individuals apart from Najib.

Uma: Yes, we have on and off. It’ll come through compliance department, they’ll send the instruction.

Harvinderjit: Have you been asked to retrieve statements for Low Teck Jho?

Uma: I was asked to check if he has an account yes, but I think he doesn’t have any records with Raja Chulan Branch.

12.25pm: Harvinderjit asks when was she first made aware that the agencies were looking at certain accounts.

Uma: When I first became branch manager, I knew that they were investigating, but I don’t know what specifically.

Jayakumar (Uma’s predecessor) was on MC on my first day – so the handing over was done days later. He told me that I needed to take over to handle this.

The assistant branch manager was aiding the 1MDB investigation at that point.

Harvinderjit: Who did you meet on July 6?

Uma: I remember Azizul. The rest I can’t really remember. There was a group of them that came. About 11 of them who came when they first walked in.

I just had my morning briefing. Just opened the branch at 9am. I wanted to go into my room, then they came. They were waiting in the lobby and asked to see the branch manager.

I remember one of them was Azizul. He wasn’t the main person, there were other people.

12.30pm: Uma is asked if she could recall what the officers in the raid were looking for.

Uma: SRC, Gandingan Mentari, Yayasan Gemilang, Najib’s account.

The raiding party also asked about 1MDB accounts, she says.

Harvinderjit: Did they ask for the account numbers or under certain names?

Uma: They would ask for all the accounts under a certain name.

Harvinderjit: Did he read from a list?

Uma: I can’t recall.

Harvinderjit: How long did it take you to retrieve?

Uma: About an hour, maybe less.

She says by 10am, she had retrieved almost all of the documents requested. She adds that when the raiding officers came, they introduced themselves as some from MACC and some from Bank Negara.

12.45pm: The raiding officers wanted to seize the original copies of the documents, so Uma made three copies of the entire folder for the bank’s reference.

Harvinderjit: The only other time you saw the original copies was when the prosecution showed to you?

Uma: Yes, only recently.

1pm: Court breaks for lunch.

2.25pm: Court resumes. Uma continues her testimony and Harvinderjit continues cross-examination.

2.45pm: Harvinderjit questions Uma if she was asked to produce emails sent by former SRC director See Yok Peng to relationship manager Krystle Yap. Uma replies no.

Harvinderjit says the email trails starts from December 24, 2014, 10.47am. Yok Peng emailed Krystle Yap and CC’ed to Terence Geh and Daniel Lee.

2.55pm: Harvinderjit: Is Krystle Yap and Joanna Yu still with AmBank?

Uma: Nope. They have left.

Harvinderjit: You know why they left?

Uma: No. I don’t liaise with them

Harvinderjit: What about Daniel Lee?

Uma: Daniel Lee also left.

Harvinderjit: When?

Uma: Long time ago.

3pm: Uma confirms that the request for documents was based on transaction specifics, including specific dates and amounts. She also agrees when Harvinderjit says that account numbers are not mentioned in transaction documents.

3.15pm: Harvinderjit asks Uma when was the last time she looked at her copy of the documents. She says she looked at it recently when she had to refer to them for her witness statement.

Harvinderjit asks whether the documents were not covered during the oral discussion with the prosecution.

She says it was not scrutinised, only brief details were brought up during the oral discussion such as, “did you sign here”.

3.20pm: Harvinderjit: SRC has any other account?

Uma: They have one foreign currency account.

Uma says there were multiple meetings with MACC after the raid. She also confirms that she was only called by police for investigation last year.

4.30pm: Harvinderjit has been grilling Uma about the digital and paper documentation process that comes with transactions. Referring to the December 24, 2014 transaction where RM5 million was transferred from SRC to Ihsan Perdana, Harvinderjit says that former SRC director Suboh Yassin’s signature on the hard copy of that statement was much bigger than the email soft copy which was sent two months later, on February 13, 2015.

Harvinderjit says this system allows for the exploitation of a “legitimate loophole”, and asks Uma if she agrees.

Uma seems nervous and replies softly. Referring to her as “my dear”, Harvinderjit tells her not to be scared.

The AmBank branch manager, which is the prosecution’s 21st witness, has been on the witness stand for over six hours now, starting from 9am this morning. Yesterday, she was on the stand for four hours.

5.10pm: Harvinderjit is still questioning Uma about mismatched signatures on hard and digital soft copies of instruction letters from SRC International to AmBank.

Harvinderjit says there are vast differences in the signatures.

Harvinderjit: Come on ma’am. You can spot the difference by just seeing it.

Alyaa Alhadjri/Malaysiakini

Uma: I don’t know.

He then continues quizzing Uma.

5.20pm: Pointing to a copy which looks identical to another document, Harvinderjit says it was almost as if someone had cut and pasted the signature.

Uma: For bankers, as long as the signatures match, the transaction will be processed.

She adds that she really cannot comment on the difference in signatures.

5.35pm: Shafee requests for the proceedings to be postponed to Monday, saying that he has some matters involving Samirah Muzaffar tomorrow.

The lawyer promises to provide dates to replace all the Fridays they have skipped. Proceedings were postponed last Friday as well, as Shafee had another matter to attend to.

“Sitham and I will provide the dates for replacement for all the Friday we’ve missed.

“It’s a good idea for the witness to have a break tomorrow as well,” Shafee said.

“I have not given up on those dates,” the judge says, adding that he expects to hear back on those dates.

Proceedings will continue on Monday, 9.30am.

Court is adjourned.

Earlier reports:

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