KUALA LUMPUR, July 22 (Bernama) -- A former banker in Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s trial today told the High Court here that the former prime minister's three current accounts had a high volume of transactions between 2011 and 2015.
Joanna Yu Ging Ping, 48, a former relationship manager at Ambank Berhad, said the transactions included inward fund transfers from overseas in foreign currencies.
Reading out her witness statement on the 41st day of the trial, Yu, who is now jobless, said that for purposes of reporting the overseas inward fund transfers to Bank Negara, she enquired from Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil (former chief executive officer of SRC International Sdn Bhd) the purpose of the said inward funds received and was informed that the funds were "gifts".
"As a relationship manager, I closely dealt with corporate clients and the individuals therein who have a high standing with the bank usually because of their status or their accumulated wealth. Najib fell in this category of clients and therefore we were the contact point for his bank-related matters.
"However, as Najib had given his mandate to Nik Faisal to act on his behalf, I usually met and dealt with Nik Faisal and not directly with Najib," said the 54th prosecution witness during examination-in-chief by DPP Budiman Lutfi Mohamed.
Elaborating, the witness said she did not have direct access to Najib's accounts within the bank but as his relationship manager, she would facilitate and forward any request received from Najib or Nik Faisal as his mandate holder in relation to Najib's accounts to the relevant product divisions within Ambank.
"All fund transfers between Najib's current accounts were upon written instructions received from Nik Faisal as permitted within Nik Faisal's given mandate. As mentioned, I assisted by forwarding the written instructions received from Nik Faisal to the branch for their action.
"Owing to Najib's position as Prime Minister and Finance Minister, even when there were instances where the current accounts were overdrawn, the bank would not automatically dishonour the cheques issued by Najib.
"The branch would alert me of the overdrawn situation, and I would immediately contact Nik Faisal via telephone calls, messages or e-mails to update him to remedy the overdrawn situation to ensure that the cheques are honoured. However, there were instances when Nik Faisal could not be contacted,” she said.
The witness also pointed out that whenever instructions were received from Nik Faisal as the mandate holder for Najib's accounts, it was taken that the said instructions were from Najib himself.
"I also updated group managing director of Ambank Group Cheah Tek Kuang on instructions that I have received and actions taken in relation to the said accounts as and when enquired by Cheah from time to time. This is because I believe that Najib was in contact with Cheah and I had to keep him updated so that he knew of the actions taken or pending on our part," she said.
She said Najib also issued a letter dated March 3, 2015 to cancel his Visa Platinum card (number 4585 8180 0000 5496) and MasterCard Platinum card (number 5289 4380 0003 8961).
"Subsequently I was informed by the bank’s credit card division that the credit cards could not be cancelled as there were outstanding balances for both cards.
"I brought this matter to the attention of Nik Faisal. The two credit cards were cancelled on March 11, 2015 following the payment of all outstanding balances on March 10, 2015.
"In relation to the three current accounts that were opened in 2013, Datuk Seri Najib issued an instruction letter dated March 3, 2015 to close all three accounts and to debit any remaining balance to Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd. I forwarded the said letter to the branch for their further action,” she said.
As the current accounts of Najib were constantly overdrawn and AmBank often had to wait for adequate funds to be deposited in order to clear cheques issued by Najib, together with the fact that Cheah had retired and would be stepping down from the AmBank Board at the end of 2014 which meant that AmBank would not have Cheah to maintain contact with Najib, the senior management of AmBank had at the end of 2014 proposed and discussed to close Najib’s current accounts.
"Najib's current accounts with Ambank were eventually closed on March 9, 2015," she said.
Najib, 66, is facing three counts of criminal breach of trust, one count of abusing his position and three counts of money laundering involving SRC International Sdn Bhd funds amounting to RM42 million.
The hearing before Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali continues.