Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s family friend Low Taek Jho had supposedly handled Najib’s personal bank accounts at AmBank, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
The report said Low had repeatedly emphasised the sensitivity of the bank accounts and stressed the need for secrecy.
He had reportedly even forbidden AmBank from sending the credit card statements linked to the accounts to the prime minister’s residence.
“Don’t let people outside the bank or more than a few people inside know about the accounts, he instructed. Use Gmail, not the bank’s email system, for communication. Whatever you do, don’t send credit-card statements to the prime minister’s house,” according to the WSJ report, which listed the purported do’s and don’ts from Low, who is widely known as Jho Low.
“‘No no no’ and 'Super sensitive'," Low wrote, according to transcripts of BlackBerry messages reviewed by WSJ.
“He instead had someone collect the statements by hand,” said the report published this morning.
Malaysiakini is unable to independently verify the report.
The report referred to purported transcripts between the Penang-born tycoon and an AmBank banker who acted as the main point-of-contact on matters concerning the accounts. Another senior AmBank executive supposedly handled the accounts personally.
Low had supposedly stressed that it is very important that no one but the two of them should get a hold of the bank statements.
“Cause if it gets on Internet where funds were from then headache,” Low supposedly said.
The messages also supposedly discussed how to deal with the then Bank Negara governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz (photo), in case she raises concerns about the 1MDB-related transactions.
In such an event, the senior AmBank executive is supposedly to see her and “let her know this is boss request”, which the WSJ claimed refers to Najib.
Najib had previously been accused of pocketing hundreds of millions of dollars in 1MDB funds, through intermediaries, into his personal bank accounts at AmBank.
However, he said he has done no wrong and described the transactions into his accounts as donations from a Saudi prince.
Attorney-general Mohd Apandi Ali agreed with Najib and decided not to press charges against the prime minister after an investigation.
Malaysiakini has contacted Najib’s press secretary for comment on today’s WSJ report and is awaiting a response.
'Najib had written over 500 cheques'
According to the report, Low’s lawyer declined to comment on the matter, as did AmBank and its two bankers supposedly involved in dealing with Low and Najib’s bank account. Zeti also reportedly declined to comment.
The report claimed that bank documents show Najib had written over 500 cheques out of accounts supposedly funded through 1MDB, totalling US$400 million.
It said that based on the documents and the message transcripts, the account was running short on funds at one point and this prompted fears that a bounced cheque could draw regulatory attention.
Low then arranged for US$4 million in cash to be deposited in Najib’s account to avoid this, it claimed.
The WSJ also reported that investigators believe someone in Low’s entourage had been crafting letters to vouch the transactions into Najib’s accounts as gifts or donations, citing unnamed sources said to be familiar with investigations in two countries.
It said one such letter, dated Feb 1, 2011, was signed by Saudi prince Saud Abdulaziz Majid al Saud and was sent to Bank Negara.
It vouched for US$100 million as a reward for Malaysia’s promotion of Islam, and “should not in any event be construed as an act of corruption".
“But he donated no money and wasn’t the instigator of the letter, according to a person involved in the matter. The prince didn’t respond to requests for comment...
“More such letters followed, some using nearly identical language, describing purported gifts of hundreds of millions of dollars,” the report claimed.
In March 2013, when a transfer of US$681 million arrived, AmBank had asked for more documentation on the transaction.
This supposedly prompted another letter, purported to be from the same prince, this time dated March 1, 2013, and vouching for US$800 million.