Najib’s trial Day 41: Jho Low requested code identity for Najib’s accounts witness says

KUALA LUMPUR, July 22 (NNN-BERNAMA) — Fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho who is also known as Jho Low had requested for Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s bank accounts to be identified by a code name for confidentiality reasons. 

Former relationship manager at Ambank Berhad, Joanna Yu Ging Ping, 48, told the High Court this today, on the 41st day of  the former prime minister’s trial in relation to RM42 million of SRC International Sdn Bhd’s funds.

Reading out her witness statement, Yu said based on her dealings with her portfolio of corporate clients, the “AmPrivate Banking-MR” code name used for Najib’s current account was the first ever individual account to have been designated with a code name.  

The search is still on for fugitive Jho Low, a central figure in the ongoing trial of former Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

“The reason for the code name was based on a query made by Jho Low who had requested for the account to be identified based on the said account number only rather than by the name of the account holder to ensure confidentiality.

“I then checked with the operations side of Ambank whether this was possible and I was informed that a code name could be assigned but the account would still contain the identity of the account holder. 

“I am not sure who decided on the code name itself. I was subsequently informed by group managing director of Ambank Group Cheah Tek Kuang that the then Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia had been informed of this matter,” she said.

Regarding the savings account (account number 211-002-009048-1) and current account (211-202-200969-4),  Yu said Najib issued a mandate letter to Ambank dated March 10, 2011.

According to the letter, the bank was to allow one Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil to make on Najib’s behalf, enquiries as to the status and details of the said accounts and confirm all cheques issued for amounts exceeding RM250,000.00.

The letter also stated that the bank was to clear/confirm all cheques presented up to RM250,000.00 without further reference to Najib and/or Nik Faisal. 

Nik Faisal was the former director and chief executive officer  of SRC.

When shown a mandate letter dated March 10, 2011 by deputy public prosecutor Budiman Lutfi Mohamed during the examination-in-chief, Yu confirmed that it was indeed the letter that she was talking about.

The 54th prosecution witness said as of 2011, Najib had one savings account, one current account and two credit cards with AmBank. 

“Sometime in June or July 2013, I was informed by Nik Faisal that Najib had instructed to close both the said savings and current account, and to open three new current accounts for Najib. 

“I then provided the required forms to Nik Faisal who later returned the completed forms to me bearing the signature of Najib. I forwarded the forms and documents to the Branch for their further action,” she said. 

Yu said the three current accounts that were opened in 2013 had the following account numbers and designated code names.

“211-202-201188-0 refers to AmPrivate Banking-1MY; 211-202-201190-6 for AmPrivate Banking-MY; and 211-202-201189-8 for AmPrivate Banking-Y1MY,” she said.

Yu said in relation to the code names used for the three new current accounts, she was informed by Nik Faisal that Najib had instructed for AmBank to maintain the similar code name specifications used for the initial current account opened in 2011 to ensure confidentiality.  

The witness said since 2010 she had been managing accounts related to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) as one of the bank’s corporate client groups. Najib then was chairman of 1MDB’s Board of Advisors.

She said she met Jho Low sometime in 2008, prior to managing 1MDB.

Lawyer Datuk V Sithambaram is on the prosecution team of former prime minister Najib’s SRC corruption trial.
Photo courtesy of BERNAMA

To an additional question by deputy public prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram, the witness said apart from Nik Faisal, she communicated with Jho Low on matters related to Najib’s three accounts.

Sithambaram: Why did you contact Jho Low when he was not an account holder or mandate holder? 

Yu: He was the person who facilitated the accounts to be opened.. he frequently sent messages regarding details of Najib’s accounts to me.

Sithambaram: Earlier you said you had contacted Jho Low.. who gave you the mandate? 

Yu: It was given by mandate holder Nik Faisal.

Sithambaram: Who is the sole signatory to issue cheques from Najib’s current accounts?

Yu: Najib.

To another question, Yu  said she did not receive any complaint about unauthorised cheques being issued by any third party on behalf of Najib.

Sithambaram: Nik Faisal could take money from Najib’s account?

Yu: No he could not.  

Najib, 66, is facing three counts of criminal breach of trust, one charge of abusing his position and three counts of money laundering over SRC International Sdn Bhd funds amounting to RM42 million.

The hearing continues before justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.

–NNN-BERNAMA