KUALA LUMPUR: Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) raided a commercial bank four years ago for not reporting suspicious transactions involving Najib Razak’s six banks accounts, but did not inform the former prime minister as it did not want to tip him off, the High Court hearing Najib’s case was told today.
BNM investigating officer, Ahmad Farhan Sharifuddin said the “examination” on July 6, 2015 was conducted on the Ambank headquarters in Jalan Raja Chulan, Kuala Lumpur under Section 14 of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act.
“We conducted the raid because the bank did not submit a report on suspicious transactions from Najib’s accounts,” he said when cross-examined by Najib’s counsel, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
Under the anti-money laundering law, local banks must inform BNM if an account holder receives or remits RM500,0000 and above, be it locally or overseas.
Ambank’s Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager R Uma Devi had said based on bank records between 2011 and 2013, RM2.6 billion (US$681 million) went into an account belonging to Najib which was opened on Jan 13, 2011.
She said records revealed the RM2.6 billion came as a donation and gift from Faisal bin Turki, a member of the Saudi royal family, as well as from Blackstone Asia Real Estate Partners.
It was also revealed that RM304 million was deposited into the account in 2011, RM756 million in 2012 and RM1.9 billion in 2013.
On Aug 23, 2013, RM2.034 billion (US$620 million) was remitted out of the country.
Ambank cheque processing manager Badrul Hisam Mohamed also told the court that RM10.7 million was given to two Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties as well as individuals and companies through two bank accounts belonging to Najib from late 2014 and early 2015.
Ahmad Farhan said banks must provide the suspicious transactions report for the central bank to conduct an analysis.
He said Ambank was issued a compound fine for its breach under the anti-money laundering law but he did not disclose the amount.
Ahmad Farhan said BNM also did not inform Najib, then-prime minister and finance minister, about the suspicious transactions from his accounts.
“That will amount to tipping him off,” he said when questioned by Shafee why BNM did not do so.
He said the suspicious transactions could become a subject of probe by other investigating agencies like the police, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the Customs.
Ahmad Farhan said MACC later came to meet him sometime in August 2015, where he handed over documents seized during the raid.
It is said BNM raided the bank following The Wall Street Journal’s report on July 2, 2015 that large amounts of money were found in Najib accounts.
This also led to the formation of a task force made up of the Attorney-General’s Chambers, MACC, BNM and the police.
Najib faces six charges of money laundering and criminal breach of trust in the transfer of RM42 million to his account from SRC International Sdn Bhd, a former unit of 1MDB.
He is also accused of abusing his power as prime minister by giving government guarantees on SRC International’s RM4 billion loan from Retirement Fund Inc.
The Pekan MP was charged with committing the offences at AmIslamic Bank in Jalan Raja Chulan and the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya between Aug 17, 2011, and Feb 10, 2015.
Hearing before trial judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali continues.