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Day 9: Trial postponed to hear Najib's bid to strike out charges

Malaysiakini team  |  Published:  |  Modified:

LIVE | The ninth day of former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak's criminal trial involving SRC International Sdn Bhd takes place at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysiakini brings you live reports of the proceedings.

Summary of Najib’s SRC RM42 million case

Najib is facing 7 charges relating to RM42m involving SRC International, a former 1MDB subsidiary.

  • 1 abuse of power charge
  • 3 criminal breach of trust (CBT) charges
  • 3 money laundering charges

KEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Trial postponed to hear Najib's bid to strike out charges
  • Defence grills bank manager on unmatching signatures
  • 'Can Najib be held responsible for transactions if statement not received?'
  • SRC also has foreign currency account with AmBank, says manager
  • Bank staff who managed Najib's accounts resigned long ago
  • Bank manager aware several accounts under investigation in 2015
  • Witness never met Najib, SRC directors
  • AmBank manager's testimony contradicts that of Bank Negara officer
  • AmBank did not receive any discrepancy alert from Najib
  • Defence objects to DPP's 'leading questions'
  • Bank Negara visit 'not so much of a raid'
  • Najib closed 3 accounts, transferred balances to Ihsan Perdana - witness
  • Shafee 'on the way', bank manager returns to witness stand
  • Judge arrives, proceedings begin
  • Najib arrives at KL High Court


Thank you for following Malaysiakini's live report

6pm - Thank you for following our live report today.

Reporting by Hidir Reduan and Hariz Mohd. Social media updates by Ewe Ling Yenn.

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Trial postponed to hear Najib's bid to strike out charges

5.30pm - Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali vacates the hearing of Najib's seven SRC International charges tomorrow so that he can hear the accused's application to strike out the said charges.

Najib's lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah applies for the trial to resume on Monday, so that the court can deal with the hearing of the interlocutory application.

"Tomorrow, the court has also fixed for notice of motion to challenge the charges," Shafee says.

He says that this will also be good for both parties, as well as witness R Uma Devi, as they could have a break tomorrow.

"Sithambaram and I have agreed to set a replacement date for all the (vacated) Fridays," Shafee says.

Sithambaram informs the court that the prosecution has no objection to the matter.

Justice Mohd Nazlan then sets the hearing for Najib's challenge towards the charges to be held tomorrow at 9.30am.


Malaysiakini regrets error

5pm - Lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah informs the court that there was an error in a Malaysiakini article published yesterday.

Shafee then appeals to Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali to ask Malaysiakini to correct its report, to which the judge agrees.

Editor's note: Malaysiakini had made an error in the fifth paragraph of a BM report on this trial yesterday. The error has been remedied. Malaysiakini would like to apologise to the Kuala Lumpur High Court, affected parties and readers.


Defence grills bank manager on unmatching signatures

4.15pm - Cross-examination of prosecution's 21st witness R Uma Devi continues with counsel Harvinderjit questioning the AmBank branch manager about unmatching signatures on soft copies and hard copies of instruction letters from SRC International to the bank.


'Can Najib be held responsible for transactions if statement not received?'

3.55pm - Defence counsel Harvinderjit and DPP Sithambaram (photo below) clash over the former's "conjecture" questioning of witness R Uma Devi.

This is after Harvinderjit asked the witness whether it is possible that Najib could not be liable for any wrongdoing in his accounts if the bank statements never reached him.

"This is conjecture. If it (bank statement hypothetically kept away from Najib), it is conjecture. This is merely her opinion," Sithambaram objects to the lawyer's line of questioning.

"Unless you have proof that he (Najib) received the statement, then this is conjecture," Harvinderjit shoots back.

He then continues with his cross-examination of Uma Devi over who manages accounts at AmBank's Raja Chulan branch, where she is the branch manager.


SRC also has foreign currency account with AmBank, says manager

3.20pm - AmBank relationship managers can open accounts for their clients, and each manager has a unique code, which would be stated in the bank's internal account-opening forms.

The bank's Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager R Uma Devi tells defence counsel Harvinderjit this during cross examination.

She also agrees to a suggestion by Harvinderjit that the branch does not carry out verification processes directly with clients in such cases, and it relies on supporting documents submitted by the relationship manager involved.

Earlier, Uma testifies that SRC International has a foreign currency account with AmBank.


Bank staff who managed Najib's accounts resigned long ago

2.50pm - R Uma Devi, who is AmBank's Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager, testifies that relationship managers Krystle Yap, Joanna Yu Ging Ping and Daniel Lee are no longer with the commercial bank.

During cross examination by defence counsel Harvinderjit, the 21st witness says the employees had resigned "long ago".

"Krystle Yap, Joanna Yu and Daniel Lee have left long ago," she testifies.

Asked when exactly they left the bank, Uma says she has no idea as she does not liaise with them.

The former Ambank relationship managers' names emerged over the course of testimony as being involved in the managing of accounts, including those linked to Najib's case.


Bank manager aware several accounts under investigation in 2015

12.30pm - AmBank's Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager R Uma Devi tells the court that she was informed by the previous branch manager, whom she identifies as Jayakumar, that several accounts registered at the branch were under investigations by the authorities.

This, she says, was relayed to her about three days after she started her duty there on July 1, 2015, when her predecessor officially handed over his position to her. 

The duty handover was delayed as Jayakumar was on medical leave.

However, Uma says she was not aware which accounts were under investigation.

She further testifies that three days later (on July 6, 2015), a group of Bank Negara officers visited the branch, and asked about accounts belonging to SRC International, Gandingan Mentari, Yayasan Gemilang, and Najib.

The raiding party also asked about 1MDB accounts, she says.

The central bank officers gave her the names orally, she adds, but she can't recall if they gave her account numbers or were reading the names from a list.

"I can't remember but they said they wanted all accounts under certain names, but I cant remember if they gave account numbers," she says when answering a question during cross-examination by defence counsel Harvinderjit.

The lawyer then reads out a list of names and asks Uma if the officers had asked about the accounts of these individuals, other than Najib.

The bank manager then tells the court that she could not recall most of the names, but mentions that the authority might have queried whether SRC International directors had opened personal accounts with the branch. 

Court adjourns for lunch break. Proceedings to resume at 2.15pm.


Witness never met Najib, SRC directors

12.15pm - AmBank's Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager R Uma Devi says she has no personal knowledge of what transpired in accounts at the branch prior to July 1, 2015.

During cross-examination by defence counsel Harvinderjit, Uma says she was transferred to the branch on July 1 that year.

Harvinderjit: Prior to July 1, 2015, whatever transpired in (Ambank) Raja Chulan accounts are beyond your personal knowledge?

Uma: Yes.

Harvinderjit: Your testimony (during examination-in-chief when she read out from a witness statement) were only based on (bank) documents retrieved by you?

Uma: Yes.

To Harvinderjit's question if she had personally seen Najib or witnessed him signing documents in front of her, Uma answers in the negative.

She tells the lawyer that she has also never seen SRC International directors Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil Nik Othman Arif Kamil or Suboh Md Yassin sign documents in front of her.


AmBank manager's testimony contradicts that of Bank Negara officer

11.27am - AmBank Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager R Uma Devi denies that Bank Negara investigating officer Azizul Adzani Abdul Ghafar only gave her account numbers that the central bank sought during its raid at the branch on July 6, 2015.

During cross-examination by defence counsel Harvinderjit, Uma acknowledges that her account of events is different from the testimony by Azizul, who was the trial's second witness.

Harvinderjit: Were you aware of what witness Azizul informed the court?

Uma: I read through the news feeds.

Harvinderjit: While you were conversing (with DPP Sulaiman and Suhaimi in a meeting last week), you knew what Azizul had said is not the same as you are saying (now).

Uma: Yes.

Harvinderjit: Azizul told the court that he only gave you the account numbers. You know that is not true?

Uma: Yes.

Harvinderjit: This was discussed with (DPPs) Suhaimi, Sulaiman and Sithambaram?

Uma: It was mentioned.

Harvinderjit: Your position is different?

Uma: Yes

Last week, during cross examination by Harvinderjit, Azizul (photo below) said that he only gave Uma account numbers during the raid and denied that he had asked the bank manager for details on specific transactions of accounts.


AmBank did not receive any discrepancy alert from Najib

10.40am - It is the duty of AmBank customers to check their monthly bank account statements and contact the bank within 14 days should they find any discrepancies, said AmBank Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager R Uma Devi.

During examination-in-chief by DPP V Sithambaram, Uma testifies that there is no record of such notification from Najib with regard to his three bank accounts ending 906, 880 and 898.

Sithambaram: How often are bank statements given to (AmBank) customers?

Uma: (On) a monthly basis.

Sithambaram: When you send statements to customers, what is the duty of the customers?

Uma: (The duty of customers) is to check the transactions (in their statement), and within 14 days to come back to the bank if there is any discrepancy whatsoever.

Sithambaram: And as bank manager of AmBank Jalan Raja Chulan, after you took charge of the branch, are you aware or filed any records of any notification by Datuk Seri Najib to AmBank notifying of any errors, discrepancies, irregularities, unauthorised withdrawals, debits, fraudulent transactions or entries made without mandate?

Uma: To my knowledge and record that I had, no.


Defence objects to DPP's 'leading questions'

9.48am - Najib's defence counsel Harvinderjit (photo below) objects to DPP Suhaimi's questioning of witness AmBank's Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager R Uma Devi over the Bank Negara raid.

"(DPP) must obtain evidence by open-ended questions, not ask witness to confirm (so and so). Where is the credibility?" the defence lawyer objects.

Suhaimi counters that the matter of the raid is not challenged and that if he changes his line of questioning, it would drag on the matter.

Harvinderjit, however, says that not every part of the raid event has been established.

Justice Nazlan then orders Suhaimi to rephrase his question regarding what folders that Uma handed to Bank Negara officers on the day of the raid.


Bank Negara visit 'not so much of a raid'

9.46am - AmBank's Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager R Uma Devi confirms that Bank Negara officers visited the branch in Kuala Lumpur on July 6, 2015.

However, she says to DPP Suhaimi that it was not so much of a raid, because bank operations were still ongoing and not disrupted at the time.

"I would not say it was a raid. Operations at branch still running (sic).

"Bank Negara officers came to see the branch manager and I brought them to the upper floor," she tells Suhaimi during examination-in-chief.


Najib closed 3 accounts, transferred balances to Ihsan Perdana - witness

9.35am - The court hears from AmBank Jalan Raja Chulan manager R Uma Devi that a cheque worth RM3.5 million was issued from Najib's AmBank account to an account belonging to "Hafarizam Wan Aisha and Mubarak".

The cheque dated Jan 21, 2015, was debited to the recipient's account on Jan 22, 2015.

However, according to Uma, the bank made a mistake, which saw only RM3,500 credited into the recipient's account.

"I was informed that there was an action to rectify (the mistake), but I am not sure what was the action taken by the cheque processing centre in AmBank," she tells the court.

Uma then testifies that in March 2015, Najib ordered for the closure of three of his AmBank accounts, which he had opened on July 31, 2013.

She testified that the three accounts had a total balance of RM103,361.17 when it was closed.

According to Uma, in the letter requesting for closure of the accounts dated March 3, 2015, Najib had also instructed the bank to transfer all the balances to Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd's bank account.

Ihsan Perdana was the corporate social responsibility arm of SRC International.

This instruction was carried out by the bank through a cheque dated March 9, 2015, she says.

Earlier, Uma in her testimony spoke about transfers of millions of ringgit between the three accounts prior to the closures.

These transfers, according to her, were made under the order of Nik Faisal Ariff, an authorised signatory for the accounts.


Shafee 'on the way', bank manager returns to witness stand

9.10am - Deputy public prosecutor Suhaimi Ibrahim introduces members of the prosecution and defence for the day.

The defence team, however, is short of its lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

Defence counsel Harvinderjit Singh tells the court that the senior lawyer is still on his way, but they understand if the court wants to proceed without waiting for him.

The hearing starts with prosecution's 21st witness R Uma Devi, who is AmBank's Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager, returning to the witness stand. 

Shafee arrives a few minutes later.


Judge arrives, proceedings begin

9.08am - Najib enters the dock as Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali (photo below) enters the courtroom to begin proceedings.


Najib arrives at KL High Court

8.55am - Decked out in a dark blue suit, former premier Najib Abdul Razak takes a seat at the front row in court as he awaits the ninth day of his trial to begin.

Two cushions and a bottle of water are seen in the dock, where the accused will be seated during proceedings.


The criminal trial of former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak involving the alleged misappropriation of funds from SRC International Sdn Bhd enters its ninth day at the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

Najib is being tried on three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT) under Section 409 of the Penal Code; three counts of money laundering under Section 4(1)(b) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (AMLATFAPUAA) 2001; and one count of abuse of power under Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009.

If convicted, the Pekan MP can be sentenced up to 20 years' jail, whipping and fine for the CBT charges; 20 years' jail and a fine not less than five times the amount involved or RM10,000, whichever is higher, for the abuse of power charge; and 15 years' jail and a fine up to RM15 million or five times the amount involved, whichever is higher, for the money laundering charges.

The trial, being presided over by judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, is expected to kick off at 9am today with AmBank Raja Chulan branch manager R Uma Devi continuing her testimony over the purported money trail of millions of ringgit contained in a trove of documents seized from the bank in a Bank Negara raid on July 6, 2015.

Yesterday in a testimony that took up much of the day, the 21st witness revealed among others that the AmBank branch had on Aug 11, 2014, received debit instruction to transfer RM3,282,734.16 from Najib's AmBank account and split the money into the bank’s two credit cards.

She testified that the letter ordered RM449,586.95 to be credited into a Visa Platinum credit card and the balance of RM2,833,147.21 to be credited into a Mastercard Platinum credit card, whereby it was not stated to whom the credit cards belong to.

Uma Devi also revealed that Najib had authorised SRC International director Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil to manage the former's five AmBank accounts in his capacity as the accounts’ authorised signatory.

The witness’ testimony pointed towards a series of transactions involving millions of ringgit going in and out of the accounts between 2013 and 2015, with RM64 million alone being credited into one of these accounts between July 8, 2014 and Feb 10, 2015.

This includes a sum of RM27 million from Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd, a company that carried out corporate social responsibility works for SRC International.

Attorney-General Tommy Thomas leads the 13-person prosecution team, comprised of deputy public prosecutors Sulaiman Abdullah, V Sithambaram, Manoj Kurup, Ishak Mohd Yusoff, Donald Joseph Franklin, Suhaimi Ibrahim, Muhammad Saifuddin Hashim Musaimi, Sulaiman Kho Kheng Fuei, Budiman Lutfi Mohamed, Mohd Ashrof Adrin Kamarul, and Muhammad Izzat Fauzan.

Najib is represented by a 13-person defence team led by veteran criminal lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

Other members of the defence team are former solicitor-general II Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden, Harvinderjit Singh, Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin, Chong Loong Men, Devanandan S Subramaniam, Farhan Read, Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed, Rahmat Hazlan, Muhammad Farhan Shafee, Tiara Katrina Fuad, Nur Syahirah Hanapiah, and Zahria Eleena Redza.

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