1MDB trial: Najib’s lawyer shows fourth Saudi prince letter promising £50m ‘gift’ after previous US$1.275b pledged donations, banker says ‘looks the same’

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 4 — A purported letter from an alleged Saudi prince had promised in 2014 to give £50 million as a gift to Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the High Court heard today during the latter’s trial over the misappropriation of RM2.28 billion of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds.

This was the fourth such letter from the purported Saudi royal figure which Najib has produced in this trial to put forward the defence that the billions of ringgit which entered his personal AmIslamic bank accounts were allegedly from Saudi donations.

Najib’s lawyer Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed today showed this letter in court, where an individual describing himself as “HRH Prince Saud Abdulaziz Al-Saud” had in a June 1, 2014 letter informed Najib of the planned gift.

Wan Aizuddin read out a portion of this letter in court: “In view of the friendship that we have developed over the years and your new ideas as a modern Islamic leader, in addition to my earlier commitments, I hereby grant you an additional sum of up to Great Britain Pounds Fifty Million (GBP 50,000,000.00) Only and or equivalent in other currencies (“Gift”) which shall be remitted to you and/or via cash and/or bank drafts to you at such times and in such manner as I deem fit either directly from my personal bank account or through my instructed company bank accounts and/or individuals.”

When Wan Aizuddin showed this fourth letter in court, 37th prosecution witness R. Uma Devi confirmed that it appeared to be similar as the previous three letters from the purported Saudi prince.

“Looks the same, sounds the same also,” said Uma Devi, who is also the branch manager of AmBank’s Jalan Raja Chulan branch.

Previously, Wan Aizuddin had shown three purported letters from the alleged Saudi individual to Najib, namely a February 1, 2011 letter promising a gift of US$100 million, a November 1, 2011 letter promising a gift of US$375 million, and a March 1, 2013 letter promising a gift of US$800 million. These would come up to a total of US$1.275 billion in the purported promise of money to be given to Najib as presents.

The four letters produced by Wan Aizuddin in court from the purported Saudi royalty had contents that were almost identical except for certain details including the amount and mention of specific bank accounts in the second and third letter, with the first letter signed off by “Saud Abdulaziz AL-Saud”, the second letter and fourth letter signed off by “HRH Prince Saud Abdulaziz Al-Saud”, while the third letter was signed off by “Saud Abdulaziz Al Saud”.

All four letters were careful to say that the donation of hundreds of millions of US dollars and millions of pounds should not be seen as an act of corruption.

Manager of the Jalan Raja Chulan branch of AmBank, R. Uma Devi, arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court October 4, 2022. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Manager of the Jalan Raja Chulan branch of AmBank, R. Uma Devi, arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court October 4, 2022. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

Manager of the Jalan Raja Chulan branch of AmBank, R. Uma Devi, arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court October 4, 2022. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

Wan Aizuddin today zeroed in on several transactions which Uma Devi had previously verified in court as having entered Najib’s account number ending 880, namely RM4,093,500 or over RM4 million which came in on June 23, 2014; over RM30 million or RM30,032,250 on October 23, 2014; RM3,624,473.70 (November 24, 2014), RM11,567.57 (November 26, 2014), RM5,360,065 (December 10, 2014), RM6,809,129.40 (December 19, 2014).

Asked by Wan Aizuddin if all these transactions of money coming into Najib’s account took place after the purported Saudi prince’s fourth letter’s date of June 1, 2014, Uma Devi confirmed this.

She also confirmed that the five transactions starting from the October 2014 one had originated from funds in pound sterling.

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).

The prosecution had said it would prove that RM2,282,937,678.41 or over RM2.28 billion of 1MDB funds had entered Najib’s accounts from all four phases of the 1MDB scheme, including through companies linked to Low Taek Jho’s associate Eric Tan.

But Najib’s lawyers have in recent days produced in court the four letters purportedly from the Saudi prince to show that the monies that entered Najib’s accounts were allegedly donations from Saudi royalty.

AmBank’s SWIFT unit manager Wedani Senen had as the 29th prosecution witness previously confirmed that £9,456,021.92 or £9.46 million entered Najib’s account known as “AmPrivateBanking-1MY” (the account ending 880) in 2014, while AmBank official Salmah Daman Huri had as the 23rd prosecution witness previously confirmed this sum would be equivalent to a total of RM 49,930,985.70 or over RM49 million based on the currency exchange rates in 2014.

Najib, who was seen wearing a dark suit with a tie with diagonal stripes, will continue to face the 1MDB trial tomorrow before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah.