25 April 2019
KUALA LUMPUR: A key prosecution witness today said the bank handling Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s account only acted based on specific instructions from the former prime minister.
Ambank Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager R. Uma Devi said all transactions involving money going into and out of his accounts were based on Najib’s instructions and mandate.
She said Ambank had also never received any complaints from Najib about how his accounts were being managed by the bank.
She said this in response to questions posed by lead prosecutor Datuk V.Sithambaram.
Najib’s defence had from the onset of the trial argued that he was a victim of “manipulation” and that “rogue bankers” were involved in handling his bank accounts.
However, Uma had said Ambank only acted based on instructions from the account holders involved in the case, namely Najib, SRC International Sdn Bhd and its subsidiary Gandingan Mentari Sdn Bhd.
Sithambaram referred Uma to three of Najib’s current accounts at the bank which were opened by the latter in 2013.
Uma confirmed that Najib had signed the declaration form when he opened the accounts and that the bank statements were sent out to the account holder or persons authorised by him on a monthly basis.
The 40-year-old banker also confirmed that the onus was on the account holder to get back to the bank within 14 days if there is any discrepancy or dispute regarding the account.
Sithambaram: As the branch manager of Ambank Jalan Raja Chulan, are you aware of or found in your records any notification by Najib to Ambank notifying of any errors, discrepancies, irregularities, unauthorised withdrawals/debits, fraudulent transactions/entries made with lack of mandate in any of his bank statements relating to the three accounts?
Sithambaram: Are you aware of any action taken by Najib against the bank for any wrongful or unauthorised transaction or error by the bank in relation to the three accounts?
Sithambaram then referred Uma to four mandate letters issued by Najib for Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil to carry out the following tasks:
1. To make enquiry on the status of his accounts.
2. To confirm cheques issued for the amount exceeding RM250,000.
3. To collect his cheque books.
4. To collect bank statements.
He also asked her to confirm if Najib had signed a declaration that he holds himself liable in the same way as if instructions were given by himself, over the mandate which he had issued to Nik Faisal.
Uma replied in the affirmative and also confirmed that the mandate had never been withdrawn by Najib.
Sithambaram: The long and short of all this is that the mandate given enables Nik Faisal to issue debit and credit instructions on behalf of this account’s holder.
Uma who was later cross-examined by Najib’s lawyer Harvinderjit Singh said she had never met Najib personally.
She said she had also never seen or met SRC International directors Nik Faisal or Datuk Suboh Md Yassin.
Harvinderjit later grilled her over the discrepancy in the signatures of the duo in the hard copy and soft copy of some instructions they had given.
Uma admitted that the signature especially that of Suboh’s looked different, with one seemingly larger than the other.
She also acknowledged that there was a transaction which had been carried out based on a scanned copy of instruction but the bank never received a hard copy of it.
Earlier, she also confirmed that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had recorded her statement several times from 2015 onwards after a task force to investigate the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal was formed.
Asked if Low Taek Jho or known as Jho Low had an account with the Ambank branch where she worked, she said the fugitive financier did not have one.
“I checked on this after I was instructed to do so by the compliance department,” she said.
She also confirmed that Najib’s relationship managers (RMs) Joanna Yu, Krystal Yap and Daniel Lee had all left the bank.
She said the trio handled Najib’s accounts and that of SRC International.
Harvinderjit: I am sure RMs whose customers are of high nett worth will be very happy.
Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah had last week brought up the issue of Yu’s email conversations with Jho Low before he talked about “rogue bankers” being involved in the case.
Najib is facing seven charged relating to abuse of SRC International funds amounting to RM42 million.
The charge include three for criminal breach of trust, one abuse of power over the funds and three money-laundering charges over the same funds.
He faces up to 20 years jail and fine for the offences.
The trial will continue on Monday.