KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 — Billions of ringgit belonging to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) had entered into two bank accounts belonging to former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak but he never disclosed this during meetings, a court witness confirmed today.
Former 1MDB chief financial officer Azmi Tahir today confirmed he personally never received a single sen from funds that were misappropriated or siphoned out of 1MDB, but instead agreed that the charts of money flows out of 1MDB entities and documents presented to him in court showed that 1MDB money had gone into Najib’s AmBank accounts.
Azmi said this while testifying as the 12th prosecution witness in Najib’s trial over the misappropriation of more than RM2 billion of 1MDB funds.
Lead prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram showed several charts of how money belonging to 1MDB had gone through multiple entities before finally reaching two AmBank accounts, which Azmi confirmed were AmBank accounts identified on documents as being under Najib’s name.
The first chart of money flows that Sri Ram presented to Azmi had shown that US$5 million (around RM15 million at the time) originally from a 1MDB subsidiary was ultimately transferred into an AmPrivate banking account ending with 2009694 between October 30 and October 31, 2012, and that slightly over RM75 million originally from another 1MBD subsidiary was transferred into this same account between November 19 and November 20, 2012.
Azmi confirmed that this AmBank account was not his, but confirmed from another document that this account number was under Najib’s name.
Sri Ram: All these monies belong to 1MDB as you can see. You can confirm, looking at the documents, who received these monies?
Azmi: It says here the account belongs to Datuk Seri Najib.
Sri Ram: Were you at any time aware he was siphoning monies like this?
Sri Ram: Monies belonging to 1MDB, you were not aware?
Azmi: No, I was not aware.
Sri Ram then went on to show yet another chart of money flows from another 1MDB subsidiary where about US$680 million or equivalent to over RM2.081 billion had gone through a series of transactions before ending up at the same AmBank account ending 2009694 via nine transactions between March 21 and April 10, 2013.
Azmi again confirmed that he could see the beneficial owner of this account was Najib.
When Sri Ram again asked if Azmi was aware that Najib had allegedly siphoned these monies, Najib’s lawyer Datuk Hariharan Tara Singh objected to say this question would not be fair when asked at this stage of the witness’s testimony.
Sri Ram then asked if Azmi was aware that Najib had received these monies, and Azmi answered, “No, I’m not.”
Azmi also confirmed that Najib never disclosed at any of the meetings that he had received these funds.
Sri Ram showed that a US$250 million bank loan that a 1MDB subsidiary had taken in 2014 had eventually resulted in over RM4.093 million of such borrowed funds going into an AmPrivate Banking AmIslamic bank account with the number ending 1880.
Sri Ram also showed how a US$975 million bank loan that 1MDB had taken had ended up with the money flowing through different entities, before some of these borrowed funds amounting to about RM45 million had all went in 2014 through four transactions to the same bank account with the number ending 1880.
Confirming that a bank statement shows this bank account ending 1880 as also belonging to Najib, Azmi again said he was not aware that this money had been received by Najib.
Sri Ram then asked: “At any of your meetings with him, either as part of the management or as part of the board or any board meetings or any meetings you had with him, did he disclose that he had received these monies?”
Azmi replied: “No, never.”
The transactions that Sri Ram showed Azmi today were related to the second, third and fourth phases of a scheme in which 1MDB’s funds were misappropriated.
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, 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 British pound 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 total of 1MDB funds that the prosecution had said it would prove had entered Najib’s accounts from all four phases would come up to a total of RM2,282,937,678.41 or over RM2.28 billion.
Previously in April 2022, former 1MDB director Tan Sri Ismee Ismail was shown transactions from the first, second and fourth phase, and had confirmed in court that these millions of ringgit — belonging to or borrowed by 1MDB — had ended up in two AmBank accounts that belonged to Najib. Ismee had confirmed the two accounts ending 1880 and 9694 were Najib’s, based on documents he was shown in court.
Previously in September 2020, Sri Ram had showed former 1MDB CEO Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi a summary of several major 1MDB-linked transactions which resulted in funds totalling US$681 million flowing to an Ambank account with account number ending 9694 between March 21, 2013 to April 10, 2013, with these transactions being part of the third phase.
Ismee was the 13th prosecution witness in this trial, while Shahrol Azral was the ninth prosecution witness.
Azmi stressed today that he “definitely” did not conspire with now-fugitive Low Taek Jho — whom he had viewed to be Najib’s representative for 1MDB matters — and other 1MDB management members to siphon money from 1MDB.
Sri Ram then asked if any of the actions that Azmi had carried out during the second, third and fourth phase had saw him obtaining any financial benefit from the monies of 1MDB or any financial benefit from Low, to which Azmi answered: “Definitely not”.
Azmi confirmed today that he did not know whether there were any arrangements that Najib had with Low regarding the use of 1MDB funds, and also confirmed that Najib had never reprimanded him for following instructions from Low and had never questioned him for carrying out instructions by Najib’s aide Datuk Azlin Alias in relation to 1MDB matters.
Previously, Azmi had said Low was not a random person that he had met on the street but that this was an individual introduced by Najib’s aide Azlin, and that he had believed Low to be a legitimate representative of Najib in 1MDB matters.
Azmi had previously also said that Low had told him that all instructions from Low and Azlin are “mandates” from Najib, adding that he had subsequently verified with Azlin that Low’s instructions were correct.
Najib’s 1MDB trial before High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes tomorrow.
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