Jho Low facilitated ‘Arab donations’ transfer, Najib tells court

Former prime minister Najib Razak says fugitive financier Jho Low arranged for the opening of his bank accounts at Ambank in 2011.

KUALA LUMPUR: Former prime minister Najib Razak told the High Court in his SRC International trial that Low Taek Jho’s involvement with his bank accounts was only as the person who facilitated the transfer of the “Arab donations” in 2011 and 2013.

He said that the fugitive financier had also arranged the opening of his bank accounts with Ambank in 2011 where Low introduced then Ambank managing director, Cheah Tek Kuang, to him.

“I only authorised Nik Faisal (Ariff Kamil) as the accounts’ mandate holder and I had no objection with Datuk Azlin (Alias) to manage the account as he was my private secretary,” he said.

The court heard that Najib had opened five current accounts with Ambank and all the accounts had been closed in 2015. Nik Faisal, who was also former SRC International chief executive officer, was the authorised person to manage all five accounts.

In his witness statement, Najib previously said that Low told him that the late Saudi ruler King Abdullah had agreed to provide him with support in the form of financial donations but he was not informed of the exact amount.

When asked by ad-hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram if Najib had lost any money as the former prime minister had claimed that his accounts were “manipulated” by Jho Low, Najib said he did not.

Sithambaram: In contrast, Datuk Seri, you benefited from the millions of dollars deposited into your account by Jho Low?

Najib: I did not ask for it.

To another question by Sithambaram on whether the money deposited into his account between December 2014 and February 2015, which was spent on political and social purposes, was to keep him in office, Najib said that “there were things that he needed to do” as prime minister and Umno president.

“I disagree,” he said, in response to Sithambaram’s suggestion that SRC International funds were diverted to his account after the “Arab donation” had run out.

Cheah, who testified previously, said that he met Low at Najib’s Taman Langgak Duta house in January 2011 and that Low introduced the then prime minister to him.

The hearing continues before High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.

Najib is facing six charges of money laundering and criminal breach of trust in the transfer of RM42 million to his account from SRC International, 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 Incorporated.