KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 28 — The transfer of some RM60.6 million into Datuk Seri Najib personal AmIslamic bank account in 2011 is actually part of the promised gift of US$100 million made by the Saudi royal family, lawyers for the former prime minister argued at the High Court here today.
Defence lawyer Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed made this suggestion during his client's trial over the misappropriation of RM2.28 billion of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds.
He was cross-examining AmIslamic bank Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager R. Uma Devi who was testifying as the 37th prosecution witness and asked her about the money totalling over RM60.6 million or RM60,629,839.43 that entered Najib's AmIslamic account with the account number ending 9694 through two transactions of RM30,449,929.97 on February 24, 2011 and RM30,179,909.46 on June 14, 2011.
Wan Aizuddin produced in court a letter dated February 1, 2011 allegedly signed off by Saud Abdulaziz Al-Saud and addressed to Najib.
The defence lawyer even read out the entire letter, including the portion where the sender told Najib. “In view of the friendship that we have developed over the years and your new ideas as a modern Islamic leader, I hereby grant you a sum of United States Dollar One Hundred Million (US$100,000,000) Only ("Gift") which shall be remitted to you at such times and in such manner as I deem fit”.
Aizuddin: Now looking at this letter, February 1, 2011, what this person basically says, he is sending over money totalling US$100 million, this is what the letter says, yes? Would you agree?
Uma Devi: Yes.
Wan Aizuddin tried to suggest the two transactions totalling RM60.6 million in 2011 were part of the US$100 million promised gift, but Uma Devi replied that she would not be able to make such a conclusion or confirmation based only on the documents shown to her so far.
Aizuddin: And based on the account statement and the two transactions I have shown you together with the SWIFT documents, you would agree with me there is a possibility or rather a irresistible conclusion that this would be the reason why the money was sent – it was a personal gift, it was a donation?
Uma Devi: I can't conclude in that manner, because the amount differs first and foremost. And I'm not sure whether this had been given to the bank prior to the transaction, so I can't conclude that, I can't confirm that.
Wan Aizuddin then suggested that if the letter had been sighted by AmBank staff, the bank would have been aware that the RM60.6 million that were sent to Najib's account in 2011 “were in fact from Saudi and is in fact part of the gift that has been promised by the Saudi royal family”.
But Uma Devi replied: “I do not know”.
AmBank's Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager R. Uma Devi is seen leaving the Kuala Lumpur High Court September 28, 2022. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Among other things, the purported February 1, 2011 letter to Najib on the alleged gift of US$100 million had stated: “This letter is issued as a gesture of good faith and for clarification, I do not expect to receive any personal benefit whether directly or indirectly as a result of the Gift. The Gift should not in any event be construed as an act of corruption since this is against the practice of Islam and I personally do not encourage such practices in any manner whatsoever. This is merely a personal token of appreciation and I am hoping the Gift would encourage you to continue with your good work to promote Islam around the world.”
The purported letter had also told Najib that he would have “absolute discretion” to decide how to use the US$100 million “gift”.
Wan Aizuddin did not say who Saud Abdulaziz Al-Saud is, but referred to the alleged gift as being promised by the Saudi royal family.
Najib was seen wearing a dark brown suit today with a lattice-pattern tie, and was also spotted sipping on a cup from coffee chain outlet Gloria Jeans in the courtroom while waiting for his trial to start.
He was also seen holding a book titled Leadership in Turbulent Times” by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Najib's wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor attended part of his trial, while his son Norashman was sighted in the court complex.
An SUV accompanied by the police and the Prisons Department carrying former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at Kuala Lumpur High Court, September 28, 2022. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Wan Aizuddin also tried to suggest that the RM60.6 million that made its way to Najib’s 9694 account in 2011 originated from a “Prince Faisal” who had a postal address in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
He referred to two bank documents which recorded the sender as “Prince Faisal bin Turki bin Bandar Al Saud” sending two batches of US$10 million each from Saudi Arabia’s Riyad Bank to the bank account AmPrivate Banking-MR (which was the code name for Najib’s 9694 account at AmIslamic Bank) on February 23, 2011 and June 13, 2011.
Noting that Uma Devi had previously verified the influx of RM30,449,929.97 on February 24, 2011 and of RM 30,179,909.46 on June 14, 2011 into Najib’s 9694 account, Wan Aizuddin suggested that these had originated from the two US$10 million transfers from Prince Faisal.
Uma Devi however said she would not be able to confirm this as the bank documents do not show the figure for ringgit Malaysia that would be equivalent to the US$10 million transactions and as the currency exchange rates on those dates were not available.
The actual amount sent to Najib’s account for the US$10 million transactions were actually US$9,999,997 and US$9,999,970 each, after accounting for US$23 and US$30 in bank charges for each transaction.
Later in the afternoon, 38th prosecution witness and former AmBank director of foreign exchange and derivative sales Yap Wai Keat confirmed that relationship manager Joanna Yu — who was in charge of Najib’s accounts — had instructed him to help convert the money that entered Najib’s 9694 account in US dollars into Malaysian ringgit, after she had obtained approval from Najib.
Yap confirmed that the US$ 9,999,977 from Prince Faisal on February 24, 2011 was converted into RM 30,449,929.97, while the US$ 9,999,970 also from Prince Faisal on June 14, 2011 was converted to RM 30,179,909.46.
The total of 1MDB funds that the prosecution had said it would prove had entered Najib’s accounts from all four phases of the 1MDB scheme would come up to a total of RM2,282,937,678.41 or over RM2.28 billion.
On the first day of trial, the prosecution had said it would show that 1MDB funds had been transferred in multiple transactions to Najib’s accounts, namely US$20 million equivalent to RM60,629,839.43 or over RM60 million from the first phase of the 1MDB scheme, US$30 million equivalent to RM90,899,927.28 or over RM90 million (second phase), US$681 million equivalent to RM2,081,476,926 or over RM2 billion (third phase), and transactions in pounds sterling that were equivalent to RM4,093,500 and RM45,837,485.70 or a combined total of RM49,930,985.70 million or over RM49 million (fourth phase).
Najib's 1MDB trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes tomorrow.