1MDB lawsuit: Lawyer claims Najib paid $620m from account in 2013 to return unused ‘donation’
Security personnel guard Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the court complex in Kuala Lumpur on September 28, 2022. — Photo by Shafwan Zaidon
By Ida Lim
Wednesday, September 28, 2022 7:15 PM MYT
KUALA LUMPUR, September 28 – Datuk Seri Najib Razak transferred $620 million from his personal AmIslamic account in 2013 to repay the unused portion of an alleged political donation, his lawyer said in court today.
Lawyer Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed suggested it during Najib’s trial for the embezzlement of RM2.28 billion from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds.
However, Jalan Raja Chulan Branch Manager of AmIslamic Bank, R. Uma Devi, refused to confirm in court that this was the only reason given by Najib for the transfer of $620 million, based solely on limited documents presented to her or known to her. Uma Devi is the 37th prosecution witness in this trial.
Uma Devi explained that customers who want to send money from their account and give instructions to the bank usually write the reasons for the money transfer in the remittance request form or in a letter of instruction.
While Najib did not state the purpose of the US$620 million transfer in his letter of instructions, Uma Devi did refer to a line in another letter dated July 30, 2013 signed by Najib and addressed to the head of treasury of the AmBank group and copied at the time. Cheah Tek Kuang, CEO of AmBank.
Uma Devi was referring to the line where Najib told the bank to “then return/return the foreign currency in a single transfer of $620 million, which is the unused amount of donations and personal gifts I had received “.
The July 2013 letter was where Najib confirmed his instruction to the bank to convert ringgit from his AmIslamic bank account with account number ending in 9694 to US$620 million and then send the money to a beneficiary he named in a separate account. letter of instruction.
Wan Aizuddin then asked, “So as you can see, 620 million US dollars is a big payment, so was the bank happy with this one letter which only had three lines of reasoning, or was the bank not didn’t she ask for other documents?”
Uma Devi then said she was unsure if AmBank had asked for more documents, pointing out that the bank branch was only involved in debiting the account while the actual disbursement of the $620 million was handled by another department. form the bank.
Later, Wan Aizuddin suggested that the US$620 million sent from Najib’s account in August 2013 was only to return the alleged donation, but Uma Devi said she couldn’t be sure if there was. had other documents about the purpose of the transaction which were not processed by Jalan Raja Chulan Branch of AmBank.
Aizuddin: You agree on the basis of documents that the only reason provided to the bank — the bank has not investigated further with the account holder or the money order holder — is that the purpose of this remittance is to return the unused amount of the donations and gifts?
Uma Devi: I don’t know if there was another communication because the payout was made at a different time so the branch was already not involved so I don’t know if there is another channel of communication .
Aizuddin: I’m just asking you, with respect to the documents in your custody, those documents that were in your file at the branch that you have control over, that shows that the sole purpose of the remittance was to return the donations, that’s all . There are no other documents.
Uma Devi: There are no other documents here as the branch was not involved in the transaction, we were only involved in the debiting of the account.
AmBank branch manager R. Uma Devi leaves the court complex in Kuala Lumpur, September 28, 2022. — Photo by Shafwan Zaidon
Today, Uma Devi said it was the duty of bank customers to get approval from Bank Negara Malaysia for the remittances they wanted to send, and banks such as AmBank would then proceed. transactions after obtaining approval.
While Wan Aizuddin suggested that banks’ relationship managers would surely help customers on behalf of the bank to get approval from Bank Negara Malaysia, Uma Devi disagreed and said, “I don’t think that another person apart from the client can obtain Bank Negara’s approval, that’s as far as I know.
Wan Aizuddin suggested that Cheah Tek Kuang, then managing director of AmBank, himself went to the Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia to inform him of the transfer of US$620 million from Najib and asked him if Uma Devi was aware of this, but she said “no”.
Today Prosecution Witness 38 and former AmBank Forex and Derivatives Sales Director Yap Wai Keat confirmed that US$620 million was sent in August 2013 from Najib’s account at Tanore Finance Corp. in five transactions.
Yap confirmed that funds totaling RM2,034,350,000 or more than RM2.03 billion in Najib’s 9694 account were first converted in five batches to US$620 million from August 2 to August 23, 2013, explaining that they weren’t converted in a single transaction like they were. a “significant amount” and could affect the forex market if done in a single transaction.
After the money from Najib’s AmIslamic account which was in Malaysian ringgit was converted to US$620 million, Yap confirmed that the money was then sent via SWIFT instructions on August 23, 2013 to Tanore.
Earlier, the prosecution said they would prove the 21 money laundering charges against Najib in this 1MDB trial by showing various transactions including a sum of RM2,034,350,000 which he allegedly transferred to Tanore between 2 and on August 23, 2013.
The prosecution had said Tanore was controlled by fugitive Low Taek Jho’s associate, Eric Tan.
Najib’s 1MDB trial before High Court Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes tomorrow.