I didn’t ask Najib to open bank accounts, says Jho Low

Fugitive financier Jho Low says he does not recall alleged text conversations with Ambank relationship manager Joanna Yu.

KUALA LUMPUR: Fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho had told authorities he did not make any suggestions to Najib Razak to open any bank accounts with Ambank.

In a witness statement dated Nov 27, 2015, Low, better known as Jho Low, said he did not know how many accounts Najib had with the bank at that time.

“I did not know that Nik Faisal (Ariff Kamil) was the authorised person to manage his accounts,” he told Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officer Ting Ing Ping, who recorded his statement at Rosewood Hotel, Abu Dhabi.

The statement was tendered today by Najib’s lawyer Farhan Read at the High Court, which is hearing the former prime minister’s SRC International corruption trial. Nik Faisal was then SRC International chief executive officer.

Low denied he suggested Nik Faisal as the person to manage Najib’s accounts.

The Penang businessman also said he knew former Ambank relationship liaison manager Joanna Yu as she managed transactions on Utama Banking Group’s (UBG) accounts. Low said he was UBG’s group adviser and non-executive chairman.

Queried on BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) chats between him and Yu on the status of Najib’s account, Low claimed he did not know the contents of the messages.

“To the best of my recollection, I do not recall such conversations and neither do I understand the context of the messages,” he said in response to the chats logged between 2014 and 2015.

Yu had testified during the prosecution stage that Low was the contact person for Najib’s accounts if she could not reach Nik Faisal.

Former Ambank managing director Cheah Tek Kuang had testified that Low introduced him to Najib some time in January 2011 at the former prime minister’s house at Langgak Duta for purposes of opening bank accounts.

Asked about his role in SRC International, Low said he did not have any interest in the government-owned company “except for potential business transactions but they were at arms’ length”.

“I am not a director, shareholder or adviser of SRC, and none of my family members were appointed to those positions. I did not recommend Nik Faisal as the CEO,” he said.

Low also said Najib may have asked him his opinions on SRC International and 1MDB.

“Like any other Malaysians, I will offer my view but I have no decision-making authority,” he said.

On 1MDB, Low told MACC that he had no business links to the company, and was merely an adviser with Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), the precursor of 1MDB.

“I was not paid any fees as adviser to TIA or (to) Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin,” he said.

Low and Nik Faisal are wanted by authorities for money laundering and criminal breach of trust, and an Interpol red notice has been sought for their arrests.

SRC International investigating officer Rosli Husain told the court that Low left the country  on May 29, 2015, and Nik Faisal on May 7, 2018.