Najib's lawyer claims loopholes exploited, raises doubts on bank signatures

Ida Lim
Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak leaves the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex, April 25, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, April 25 ― Datuk Seri Najib Razak's lawyer today claimed that documents relating to bank transactions in the former prime minister's trial have dubious signatures, alleging that loopholes in the banking system were taken advantage of.

Najib's lawyer Harvinderjit Singh argued that certain individuals ― who he did not name ― had allegedly used loopholes when instructing AmBank to transfer funds involving various accounts linked to Najib's trial.

“There were people exploiting a legitimate loophole.

“There was a loophole where there were no verification of hard copy. These people doing it knew it,” he claimed in court today.

“It shouldn't have happened. It's not the same documents scanned in the hard copy,” he further claimed.

Harvinderjit was referring to the facility where bank clients who could give instructions via email on fund transfers from their accounts.

Under this system, the bank would carry out transactions after receiving soft copies or scanned copies of letters of instructions signed off by the client, with the client to then send over the hard copy or physical copy to the bank days later.

Harvinderjit was cross-examining AmBank Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager R. Uma Devi, who had confirmed that there was no verification system for hard copies which are filed away upon receipt.

Harvinderjit today showed the prosecution witness multiple copies of soft copies and physical copies of such banking documents, asserting that the signatures carried in the documents were different.

At one point, Harvinderjit claimed that the signature above Najib's name in a scanned copy of bank document was “pixelated”.

Harvinderjit also showed different sets of banking documents on different dates with SRC International's then director Datuk Suboh Md Yassin signing off on it, before claiming that the signatures were “identical”.

“Impossible for somebody to sign on three occasions exactly the same. It's as though as someone has cut and pasted to the scanned copy because it's too identical,” he claimed.

Uma Devi, who was shown the documents, however, said she could not comment.

“For bankers, as long as it's (the signature) the same, we will process it,” she said.

Uma Devi is not a signature expert, and also confirmed to Harvinderjit that she did not take any course on identifying signature forgeries.

Uma Devi is the 21st prosecution witness in Najib's money-laundering and trial over RM42 million of former 1MDB unit SRC International Sdn Bhd.

The documents that Harvinderjit had shown in court today were for bank transactions that have already been carried out.

The trial before High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali is expected to resume next Monday.

Tomorrow, Mohd Nazlan will hear Najib's application to challenge the charges against him in this trial for allegedly being defective.

Later when met after court, Najib's lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told reporters that his client's main defence is that his bank accounts were purportedly “manipulated” by individuals such as Low Taek Jho and alleged rogue bankers.

Shafee had claimed that Najib is a “victim” of a conspiracy by Low.

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