June 19, 2024

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1MDB trial: I never doubted that Jho Low was Najib’s advisor – Witness

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 9 — A former AmBank relationship manager told the High Court here today that she never doubted that fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low was the advisor to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who was at that time the chairman of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) Board of Advisors.

Joanna Yu Ging Ping, 52, said Jho Low had introduced himself as Najib’s advisor and other top 1MDB management officials also referred to Jho Low as ‘boss’.

“In all the meetings we had with 1MDB, Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi (then 1MDB chief executive officer), Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, (the 1MDB chief investment officer) and Terence Geh (then 1MDB deputy chief financial officer) referred to Jho Low as ‘boss’ and Datuk Seri Najib as ‘big boss’.

“He (Jho Low) was very instrumental in their dealings on 1MDB and for me, I believe he was truly the advisor to Datuk Seri Najib. I have never seen Datuk Seri Najib at the 1MDB office, but I have seen Jho Low. I believe when Shahrol Azral and Nik Faisal talked about deals, they always referred back to Jho Low. So, I didn’t have a doubt that Jho Low was representing Datuk Seri Najib,” she said, adding that she was introduced to Jho Low in 2007.

Yu said this during the re-examination by Deputy Public Prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib at Najib’s trial involving the misappropriation of RM2.3 billion from 1MDB funds.

Asked by Ahmad Akram if anyone had told her that Jho Low was not an adviser to Najib, the witness said no.

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The 41st prosecution witness also said another communication by Jho Low which made her confident that he was representing Najib were those BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) chats regarding issues faced by the former premier’s AmBank credit card.

“I did not have reason to doubt him (Jho Low), when he told me (in BBM chats) that the cheque was written, that the credit card could not be used, that there was a transaction rejected, and also when he said there were incoming funds to Datuk Seri Najib’s accounts, I did not doubt that he represented Datuk Seri (Najib).

“I did not doubt that Jho Low was in contact with Datuk Seri Najib, especially on the credit card (issues) in Italy when the bank rejected certain transactions, I felt really bad for rejecting the PM’s credit card transactions. I was worried there would be repercussions and I believed Jho Low communicated with Datuk Seri (Najib) and that he (Low) had received instructions,” Yu said.

When asked why she contacted Jho Low regarding Najib’s accounts rather than contacting Najib personally, Yu said: “Because Najib was the Prime Minister of Malaysia. I didn’t think I could just walk up or call his office, it was not my level.”

Meanwhile, explaining how Najib’s accounts were constantly topped up whenever they were overdrawn, Yu said the account received over-the-counter funds from two individuals known as Kee Kok Thiam and Josie.

Ahmad Akram: Were they Arabs?

Yu: No. As far as I know, they (Kee and Josie) were Malaysian Chinese. 

Najib, 69, is facing four charges of using his position to receive bribes totalling RM2.3 billion from 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering.

For the corruption charges, Najib is alleged to have committed the offences at the Jalan Raja Chulan branch of AmIslamic Bank Berhad at No. 55, Jalan Raja Chulan, Bukit Ceylon here between Feb 24, 2011, and Dec 19, 2014, while the money laundering offences were allegedly committed at the same bank between March 22, 2013, and Aug 30, 2013.

The hearing before Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues on Feb 27.

NMT as reported by Bernama