Kuala Lumpur—As the trial of Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak continued, more details have merged from one of the star witnesses, former AmBank relationship manager Joanna Yu Ging Ping.
On Wednesday, July 31, the High Court heard about how in 2014 she deposited her own money—an amount totaling RM55,000 (approximately S$ 18,250) into one of the former Prime Minister’s personal current accounts in order to prevent a cheque he had issued from bouncing, according to a report from The Malay Mail.
Ms Yu, who had worked at AmBank from 2010 through 2015 was asked by Harvinderjit Singh, Mr Najib’s lawyer, concerning a cheque issued to someone named Lim Soon Peng in the amount of RM 80,000 (approximately S$25,500).
The cheque in question was meant to be cashed out.
Transcripts from Ms Yu’s texts via BlackBerry Messenger to Low Taek Jho, who mediated with the bank on behalf of the former Prime Minister’s financial activities, revealed that one cheque issued from Mr Najib’s account would have bounced if it had not been for a deposit of RM55,000.
When Mr Harvinderjit asked Ms Yu if she used her money to advance for the fund balance, she replied in the negative. But when the lawyer gave her the specifics of the incident, wherein she had messaged Mr Low about the overdrawn account, she said “it may have been” her money that was advanced for the balance, which was returned the next day.
Mr Harvinderjit went on to ask her about a message from Mr Low that said “thank you” for the funded amount, Ms Yu said that the money the secretary was thanking her for may have been returned from Mr Najib.
The High Court heard during the course of the questioning of Datuk Wong Nai Chee, Mr Najib’s former political secretary, that RM55,000 was needed to fund a check issued, but neither Mr Low, his secretary, nor one of his former associates, Kee Kok Thiam, were on hand to facilitate this, leading Ms Yu to advance the funds, but was reimbursed by Mr Low the next day.
The particular account in question had been used by the former Prime Minister for several purposes, including cheques issued to a welfare home, contractors, political parties, and others.
Ms Yu also recently testified that whenever the former Prime Minister had a problem charging his credit cards during big-time shopping sprees or had other financial problems with his accounts, Mr Low, who solved these problems.
Malaysia’s New Straits Times reported how Ms Yu, the 54th witness in the 1MDB trial, recounted at length how Mr Low reached out to her whenever Mr Najib had a money problem that needed fixing.
From 2010, Ms Yu handled the 1MDB accounts at AmBank. She added that Mr Najib’s personal accounts at the bank were constantly overdrawn, as cheques were issued despite insufficient balances.
The former Prime Minster faces multiple charges of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money laundering involving RM42 million (S$ 13.9 million) from funds from SRC International, and could go to jail for as long as 20 years, aside from being made to pay a fine. -/TISG