Najib appointed ex-SRC CEO to manage his current accounts, court told

Former Ambank relationship manager Joanna Yu Ging Ping says she did not have direct access to Najib Razak.

KUALA LUMPUR: The corruption trial of Najib Razak today heard that the then prime minister had given the sole mandate to former SRC International Sdn Bhd CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil to handle his three Ambank current accounts opened in 2013.

The bank’s former relationship manager, Joanna Yu Ging Ping, also said that the assistance of fugitive financer Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, was sought when Nik Faisal could not be contacted to obtain instructions.

The 54th witness, who is now unemployed, said Najib issued a mandate letter on June 20, 2013 on behalf of himself to inquire as to the status and details of the accounts.

She said Nik Faisal could confirm all cheques issued for amounts exceeding RM250,000 and for the bank to clear or confirm all cheques presented up to that amount.

“The rationale given for the appointment of Nik Faisal as the mandate holder was due to the limited time the ex-prime minister had in managing his accounts,” she said when examined by deputy public prosecutor Budiman Lutfi Mohamed.

Yu said on Aug 26, 2013, Najib issued a further mandate authorising Nik Faisal to, among other things, provide written instructions on his behalf for the transfer of funds between the three accounts.

She said she did not have direct access to Najib’s accounts with the bank but as his relationship manger, she would assist to facilitate and forward any request received from the former prime minister and Nik Faisal.

She said owing to Najib’s status as prime minister and finance minister then, there were instances where the currents accounts were overdrawn.

“The bank would not automatically dishonour the cheques issued but as relationship manager, I would contact Nik Faisal to remedy the overdrawn situation,” she said.

Further examined by ad hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram, Yu said it was Najib alone who issued cheques and he did not complain to the bank of any unauthorised payments.

“It was also not possible for Nik Faisal to withdraw money from Najib’s accounts,” she said.

Yu said she had, on many occasions, sought the assistance of Jho Low for immediate instruction whenever Nik Faisal could not be contacted as he was sometimes overseas.

“He was the person who facilitated me to get in touch with Nik Faisal when Najib’s accounts were overdrawn,” she said.

Yu said she did not contact Najib as she did not have access to him and that her instructions were to only check with Nik Faisal.

Najib is facing six charges of money laundering and criminal breach of trust (CBT) in the transfer of RM42 million to his account from SRC International, a former unit of 1MDB.

He is also accused of abusing his powers as prime minister by giving government guarantees on SRC International’s RM4 billion loan from Retirement Fund Inc.

He was charged with committing the offences at AmIslamic Bank Bhd in Jalan Raja Chulan and the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya between Aug 17, 2011, and Feb 10, 2015.

The hearing before judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali continues.