In RM2.28b 1MDB trial, ex-banker confirms Najib kept issuing cheques but never asked where money came from

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 8 — Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had continued to use the money in his personal AmBank accounts to issue cheques and make credit card payments but had not asked the bank about the origins of the money that flowed into his accounts, the High Court heard today.

Former AmBank banker Joanna Yu confirmed this while testifying as the 41st prosecution witness in Najib’s trial over the misappropriation of RM2.28 billion of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds. This sum of money from 1MDB was alleged to have entered Najib’s AmBank accounts.

Asked by deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib, Yu confirmed that Najib did not question the source of the money he was using.

Akram: Has the account holder, Datuk Seri Najib, ever asked, queried or wrote to the bank where does all this money coming from? He keeps on writing cheques, paying credit cards, has he ever queried or asked orally, verbally to the bank or to you, where does all this money coming from?

Yu: No.

Asked if it was possible for Najib to have used the funds in his personal accounts to make payments to issue cheques and to pay for credit card bills without knowing there is money in the bank, Yu said “he would believe there is money inside the bank” for him to make those payments.

She said Najib’s accounts had an auto-debit arrangement to pay for his credit card bills.

Yu said there were multiple cheques issued from Najib’s accounts, but confirmed there were never any complaints or allegations that these cheques were not actually issued by Najib.

Confirming that Najib is the sole signatory of the cheques of the accounts, Yu explained that this meant that cheques issued from Najib’s accounts had to be signed by him personally.

Former Ambank manager Joanna Yu is seen at the compound as she appears for the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) case at Kuala Lumpur Court February 8, 2023. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

No complaints from Najib

Throughout the years when she was acting as the AmBank relationship manager for Najib’s private accounts, Yu confirmed she had never received any complaints from Najib himself or his mandate holder Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil that his five accounts were not being operated according to the mandate.

(Najib had previously written to AmBank to inform that Nik Faisal was his mandate holder or authorised person to handle his accounts on his behalf.)

Based on the mandate letters, Yu confirmed that it would not have been possible for Nik Faisal or Low Taek Jho to issue or sign cheques on behalf of Najib, as Najib would have to sign the cheques himself.

Yu confirmed Najib never terminated the mandate letters to appoint Nik Faisal as his authorised account handler.

Asked by Akram, Yu confirmed that Najib and Nik Faisal never accused her of acting beyond her authority while acting as the relationship manager.

Yu similarly confirmed that Najib had not accused her — while she was the relationship manager — of conspiring with Low Taek Jho to carry out unauthorised or fraudulent transactions in his accounts.

Yu confirmed that it was only in December 2019 — which was years later after money worth millions of ringgit allegedly flowed into Najib’s accounts — that Najib had filed a civil lawsuit against her and AmBank over the alleged mismanagement of funds in his accounts.

Yu confirmed the High Court has since struck out Najib’s lawsuit and the Court of Appeal also upheld the dismissal of Najib’s civil lawsuit against AmBank and her.

Najib’s 1MDB trial before judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues tomorrow, with Akram expected to ask further questions to Yu under re-examination.


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