KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 — Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was also promised a "gift" of US$375 million from a purported Saudi prince in November 2011, on top of the same alleged Saudi royal figure's previous promise just months earlier to give US$100 million as a present, Najib's legal team claimed.
Najib's lawyer Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed produced in the High Court today a purported letter by an individual going by the name of "HRH Prince Saud Abdulaziz Al-Saud" on November 1, 2011 to "His Excellency Dato' Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak" at the latter's personal residence at No. 11, Jalan Langgak Duta, Taman Duta in Kuala Lumpur.
Wan Aizuddin showed this purported letter during Najib's trial over the misappropriation of RM2.28 billion of 1Malaysia Development Berhad's (1MDB) funds, as part of the defence's attempt to show that the millions of US dollars which had entered Najib's personal bank account in the past had allegedly originated from gifts from Saudi royalty.
Showing this purported letter to the 38th prosecution witness Yap Wai Keat, Wan Aizuddin read out parts of the November 1, 2011 letter in court, including: "Further to my letter dated 1 February 2011, I have been following your work recently and I am impressed with the significant work that you have done to govern Malaysia using Islamic principles and how you are reintroducing Islam to the rest of the world in view of the current perception that many people have since 9/11. Your suggestion to launch the Global Movement of the Moderates shows a modern way of dealing with issues of international terrorism and extremist groups.
"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 commitment, I hereby grant you a sum of up to United States Dollar Three Hundred and Seventy-Five Million (US$375,000,000) Only ("Gift") which shall be remitted 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 (such as Blackstone Asia Real Estate Partners Limited)," Wan Aizuddin read from the purported letter.
The contents of the purported letter to Najib that was read out also included the remark that Najib will have absolute discretion to decide how to use the gift and that the gift was merely a "token gesture" by the purported Saudi prince.
Yap, who is a former AmBank director of foreign exchange and derivative sales, said he could not recall seeing such a document as he does not handle such documentation. Yap also said it would be better to ask Joanna Yu, who was the relationship manager at AmBank handling Najib's personal accounts, about this document.
The 38th prosecution witness and former Ambank director of foreign exchange and derivative sale Yap Wai Keat arrives at Kuala Lumpur High Court September 29, 2022. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
The November 2011 letter shown by Wan Aizuddin in court today was virtually identical in wording to a February 1, 2011 letter from the same purported figure who had promised to give US$100 million as a gift to Najib, with the difference mostly being only the date and the amount and details on how the money would allegedly be given.
The November 2011 letter carried the same disclaimer that the gift of millions of US dollars to Najib should not be seen as an act of corruption.
Wan Aizuddin tried to suggest that six transactions of money that flowed into Najib's personal AmIslamic account ending 9694 from November 2011 to November 2012 would all be covered under the purported promised gift of US$375 million from the alleged Saudi prince.
But Yap said he would not be able to verify this just based on the banking documents shown to him and the letter alone, again pointing to Yu as being the person who would have a record of these transactions.
Wan Aizuddin then suggested that mathematically, the total sum of the six transactions would not exceed the US$375 million amount, with Yap then agreeing to this.
The six inflows of money which Wan Aizuddin were referring to are US$29,999,988 or over US$29 million from a sender known as the Ministry of Finance Riyadh via the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency Riyadh on November 25, 2011, a US$49,999,965 or over US$49 million from Prince Faisal bin Turkey bin Bandar Al Saud via Riyad Bank in Saudi Arabia on April 24, 2012, a US$ 24,999,965 or over US$24 million sum again from Prince Faisal via the same Riyad Bank on June 25, 2012, a US$24,999,965 or over US$24 million from Prince Faisal via Riyad Bank on August 14, 2012, a US$4,999,988 or almost US$5 million from Blackstone Asia Real Estate Partners via Standard Chartered Bank, Singapore on October 30, 2012, a US$24,999,988 or over US$24 million again from Blackstone and via the same bank on November 19, 2012.
When calculated, these six transactions would come up to US$159,999,859 or over US$159 million.
Yesterday, Wan Aizuddin also tried to suggest that the purported promised gift of US$100 million would explain the inflow of two transactions of US$10 million each from Prince Faisal to Najib's account on February 24, 2011 (equivalent to RM30,449,929.97) and June 14, 2011 (equivalent to RM 30,179,909.46). But this has yet to be confirmed by witnesses in court.
Today, Wan Aizuddin also suggested that those two transactions of US$10 million in February and June 2011, and a US$49,999,988 from the Ministry of Finance Riyadh on August 18, 2011 would all be covered by the letter for the purported "personal gift or donation" of US$100 million, but Yap said he would not know as he does not deal directly with the client and that the best person to check with on this would be Yu who was the relationship manager at the bank handling Najib's accounts.
In his role in facilitating the conversion of currencies, Yap said he was required to key in the code for the purpose of the conversion into the bank's internal system called Murex, which was linked to Bank Negara Malaysia's Ringgit Operations Monitoring System to provide reports on large sums of foreign exchange transactions.
Yap confirmed that Yu had stated the purpose for the inflow of funds involving Najib's AmIslamic account ending 9694 as just one of these three reasons: "personal transfer" or "gift" or "donation".
Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor arrives at Kuala Lumpur High Court September 29, 2022. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Yesterday, Wan Aizuddin had shown documents where Yu had in a February 14, 2011 email applied internally within AmBank for Najib's AmIslamic account ending 9694 to be known as "AmPrivate Banking-MR", as well as other internal emails the same year which gave approval for Najib's bank account to be identified in banking documents primarily as "AmPrivate Banking-MR" instead of his name.
Yap today said that before he carried out the conversions of US dollar into ringgit Malaysia for the two US$10 million transactions in 2011, he had already known that the AmPrivate Banking-MR account is Najib's account as Yu had informed him of this.
Yap said the reason that he was told of the account holder's identity as being Najib was to enable him to correctly capture the transaction into the bank's system and also because it was a "sensitive" bank account "so that we don't easily talk too much about the transaction".
Asked why it is a sensitive bank account, Yap highlighted that Najib is a politically exposed person (PEP), adding: "So that's why we have to be a bit more careful in terms of handling the account and this involves a large transaction amount."
While saying that bank staff try not to reveal any of its clients' information to any outsiders due to the Banking and Financial Institutions Act, Yap went on to further explain that the account was also sensitive as Najib was the prime minister then, and a large amount of the transactions could affect the value of the ringgit if the markets were to find out about the transactions.
Najib, dressed in a black pinstripe suit with a tie featuring diagonal stripes, was seen holding a takeaway cup from the coffee chain Gloria Jeans and documents when he entered the dock.
Najib's wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor attended his trial, while his son Norashman was also seen in the courtroom.
Previously, the prosecution had said it would prove that the 1MDB funds which had entered Najib’s accounts would come up to a total of RM2,282,937,678.41 or over RM2.28 billion.
Najib's lawyers had since yesterday been trying to show that money which came into Najib's account are instead linked to the purported gifts from the Saudi royal family.
Najib's 1MDB trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah is scheduled to resume next Monday.