1MDB trial: Najib’s AmIslamic account received ‘special’ approval to be given codename, bank officer says

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 26 — Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s AmIslamic bank account was known by the codename of AmPrivate Banking MR because special approval was given by the bank, a bank officer confirmed today.

R. Uma Devi, the branch manager of AmIslamic bank’s Jalan Raja Chulan branch where this bank account was opened, said this in the High Court today.

Testifying as the 37th prosecution witness in Najib’s trial over the misappropriation of RM2.28 billion of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds, Uma Devi said Najib’s AmIslamic account 211-202-200969-4 (or account number ending 9694) was actually a “normal current account” and that it did not fall under the AmPrivate banking department.

Shown a past bank statement for Najib’s 9694 account at the Jalan Raja Chulan branch, Uma Devi confirmed that it showed the account to be known as “AmPrivate Banking MR”.

Asked by deputy public prosecutor Najwa Bistamam on why Najib’s account carried the name of “AmPrivate Banking” even if it does not fall under AmPrivate Banking, Uma Devi said this was due to “special approval”.

“As far as I know, for this account, the relationship manager actually got a special approval. This is a naming convention, so they actually gave a name for it, got special approval from higher-ups to name as AmPrivate Banking-MR. It’s a special approval granted for this account,” Uma Devi said.

Najwa: Can you tell the court if you know whether there are other customers in AmBank who received such approval to change the name of the bank account to these words?

Uma Devi: As far as I know, no.

Najib’s 9694 account was where more than RM2 billion had flowed in and where more than RM2 billion had also flowed out during the years 2011 to 2013.

Najib also had a separate AmIslamic bank account with the number 211-202-201188-0 or account number ending 1880, where over RM49 million had entered via six transactions in June, October, November and December 2014.

For these two bank accounts belonging to Najib, Uma Devi said only Najib himself as the account holder can sign off on cheques to send money out. She said the records did not show an ATM card being issued for these two accounts.

She said only the relationship manager directly handling Najib’s accounts and the branch staff would have access to look at the status of the two accounts belonging to Najib, and that no other individuals would have such access.

Citing the terms and conditions to open a bank account, Uma Devi confirmed that to Najwa that Najib would be responsible for both his AmIslamic bank accounts ending 9694 and 1880.

“All the accounts that have been opened in the bank, the person fully responsible would be the account holder. So in this case, the account holder Datuk Seri Najib Razak would be fully responsible for all the transactions in the account,” Uma Devi said.

Asked if approval is required by the account holder for the issuance of cheques, Uma Devi said that for the case of Najib’s accounts where a mandate had been given to an authorised person, the bank would contact the person authorised by Najib to confirm the cheques.

Uma Devi explained that what was required was confirmation of the cheques and not approval for the cheques’ issuance.

Ambank Raja Chulan Branch Manager R. Uma Devi, who was the 37th prosecution witness, is seen leaving the court compound after testifying on the 1MDB case at Kuala Lumpur High Court September 8, 2022. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Ambank Raja Chulan Branch Manager R. Uma Devi, who was the 37th prosecution witness, is seen leaving the court compound after testifying on the 1MDB case at Kuala Lumpur High Court September 8, 2022. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

Ambank Raja Chulan Branch Manager R. Uma Devi, who was the 37th prosecution witness, is seen leaving the court compound after testifying on the 1MDB case at Kuala Lumpur High Court September 8, 2022. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

Later at around 4pm while Uma Devi was signing off on written amendments to typos in her witness statement, a man wearing spectacles and a predominantly green print shirt with touches of yellow and blue was seen passing a plastic bottle of water to Najib who was still sitting in the dock.

While Najib took a sip from the bottle, the man who was in the public gallery leaned over into the dock, placing his face next to Najib’s face to speak to him.

At this point, High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah sternly and firmly said: “Can you please refrain from approaching the accused during court proceedings?”

The man then sat down in the public gallery and did not try to approach Najib again. As Najib is now a prisoner, prison officers were also present in the courtroom to be on guard.

After that, the court proceedings continued with Najwa asking Uma Devi questions.

Najib’s 1MDB trial resumes tomorrow, with Najib’s lawyers expected to begin cross-examining Uma Devi.