Kuala Lumpur—As the trial of Datuk Seri Najib Razak went on on Wednesday, July 26, amidst the evidence presented concerning the exchanges between the former Prime Minister and the other people involved in the 1MDB scandal, people in court were amused to hear that fugitive Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, would at times refer to himself as “Fat Boy” in messages to the personnel at AmBank.
The New Straits Times (NST) reports that Joanna Yu Ging Ping, a former AmBank corporate banking officer who dealt with Mr Low, said he called himself FL in some of their chats.
She explained that “FL” stands for “fei lou,” which, in Cantonese, roughly translates to “fat boy.”
In January 2011, Mr Low recommended Najib open accounts with AmBank, Ms Yu said. The Malaysian financier was reported to have brought more than RM10 billion (S$3.3 billion) to the bank, and was said to be one of its most important clients, although she would not admit to this.
She said in court, “I don’t think he was a very important client… all our clients are important.
We handle a lot of infrastructure projects similar in size to the deals Low was bringing in.
But yes, he was one of the bigger clients.”
Ms Yu added that she had been told by Mr Low not to send any of the former Prime Minister’s bank statements to his home in Taman Duta.
Mr Low allegedly told her in an email “No, No, No… do not send the statements to his house… super sensitive.”
Moreover, AmBank was incrusted to leave Mr Najib’s name out when funds were transferred into it, according to Ms Yu.
Earlier this week Ms Yu 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, it was fugitive financier Jho Low who solved these problems.
Case in point: On December 23, 2014, when Mr Najib’s credit card did not go through at a luxury-brand Chanel store in Hawaii when he was charging over US$100,000 (S$136,500) on it, he texted Mr Low right away.
After Mr Low was able to clear his card for usage, the total amount charged at the Chanel store that day to Mr Najib’s card was US$130,625 (S$178,445).
The same thing happened when Mr Najib shopped at De Grisogono, a Swiss jeweller, to buy jewellery worth millions of ringgit. This time, she was the one who texted Mr Low, writing “Need to urgently verify 24 transactions in Italy amounting to RM3.3 million in his cards.”
In his answer, the Malaysian financier wrote, “From PM – Great holiday here. All went well. Need to speak to Cheah to clear AmBank Visa for 1.2 million euro for u know what purchase. Can u do it immediately.”
Ms Yu was able to clear this transaction right away as well. The “Cheah” referred to in the conversation is former AmBank managing director Cheah Tek Kuan.
She added that during this shopping spree, an additional 16 jewellery purchases were declined since the card had gone past its limit.
Ms Yu told the court as a witness in the trial of the former Prime Minister concerning the abuse of SRC International funds.
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