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Day 11: Bank officers authorised RM4b transfer from KWAP to SRC

Malaysiakini Team

Published
Modified 15 Aug 2019, 4:15 am

LIVE | The criminal trial of former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak involving the alleged misappropriation of funds from SRC International Sdn Bhd enters its 11th day at the Kuala Lumpur High Court today.

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
  • ClickTap to view infomation on judge, prosecution and defence team


KEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Next hearing to begin later due to bid to delay 1MDB trial
  • Bank officers of different ranks authorised RM4b transfer to SRC
  • Another RM2b transferred from KWAP to SRC account in 2012
  • RM2b transferred from KWAP to SRC account - witness
  • Najib associate Habibul called to the stand
  • 'Best way to explain 1M'sia was by giving daily essentials'
  • Najib gave event organiser RM1m to promote 1M'sia
  • No cause for alarm found, says AmBank manager
  • 'Unusual' transactions may indicate knowledge of incoming funds 
  • Multi-million ringgit cheques caused overdraft


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

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

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Next hearing to begin later due to bid to delay 1MDB trial

5.20pm - DPP V Sithambaram applies for the subsequent proceedings on Thursday to begin 30 minutes later than usual, as another hearing is set to take place on the same morning before Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

The hearing concerns the prosecution's application for Najib's current SRC International trial to be completed before the accused's 1MDB trial commences.

"On Thursday, the prosecution has a notice of motion before Justice Collin asking for this case (SRC International trial) to be completed before the 1MDB case.

"The hearing (before Lawrence's court) is fixed at 9am," Sithambaram tells Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.

Najib's defence counsel Harvinderjit Singh backs Sithambaram, saying they are unsure how long Thursday’s application will take.

Nazlan then allows the application for the SRC International trial to resume at 9.30am on Thursday this week.

According to a copy of the prosecution's application for Thursday, it is seeking the postponement of the 1MDB trial, which is set to begin on May 14.

The court papers state that the postponement is necessary so that Najib's defence would not be prejudiced due to multiple separate trials.


Bank officers of different ranks authorised RM4b transfer to SRC

4.55pm - The court hears from witness Wedani Senen that a total of RM4 billion was credited into SRC International’s AmBank account from Kumpulan Wang Pekerjaan (KWAP) in two equal tranches between 2011 and 2012.

However, each tranche was authorised by a bank officer of a different rank, resulting in the first tranche being transferred in four transactions while the second tranche was transferred in one lump sum. 

Wedani, who is AmBank Remittance Centre's Rentas Unit manager, testifies that a total of RM2 billion was credited into SRC International's bank account on Aug 29, 2011 in four transactions.

The same amount was also credited in a single transaction through the Rentas system on March 28, 2012.

Rentas is an acronym for Real Time Electronic Transfer of Funds and Securities. It is a payment system used to facilitate the transfer and settlement of large sums of money, such as high-value interbank funds and scriptless securities transactions.

During examination-in-chief by DPP Sulaiman Kho, Wedani explains that bank officers of manager rank and below can only perform a Rentas transfer amounting to a maximum of RM500 million in each transaction.

Amounts above RM500 million can only be authorised by officers of senior manager rank and above, she testified.

Sulaiman: Why are there four thermal receipts for this RM2 billion transaction (in 2011)?

Wedani: The core banking system needs an official letter. For our limit, it is RM500 million, for manager and below.

Sulaiman: You mean, when this transfer was performed, the level of authorisation of the officer was at an RM500 million limit?

Wedani: Yes, correct.

Sulaiman: So to transfer the RM2 billion, it needed to be done in four transactions?

Wedani: Yes.

Sulaiman: Each (one comprising) RM500 million?

Wedani: Yes.

The witness was then asked about the RM2 billion transaction on March 28, 2012, and why was it credited in a single transaction.

Sulaiman: The documents that were shown to you, this RM2 billion to SRC (in 2012) but it was only in one receipt. Why is that?

Wedani: We received the money from KWAP at 5.40pm, and Bank Negara is closed at 6pm. So we had to transfer (the amount) in one lump sum. (And a) senior manager and above can (perform transaction of) this amount.

Sulaiman: So it requires the authorisation of a senior manager and above?

Wedani: Yes.


Another RM2b transferred from KWAP to SRC account in 2012

3.30pm - Witness Wedani Senen confirms that a second tranche of RM2 billion flowed from Kumpulan Wang Pekerjaan (KWAP) into SRC International's bank account on March 28, 2012.

The AmBank Remittance Centre's Rentas Unit manager corroborates a confirmation advice document shown to her by DPP Sulaiman Kho.

Previously, witness R Uma Devi testified that RM2 billion was transferred into SRC International's account on the same date.

The first tranche of RM2 billion was transferred from KWAP to SRC International's account on Aug 26, 2011. 


RM2b transferred from KWAP to SRC account - witness

3.05pm -  A sum of RM2 billion was transferred from Kumpulan Wang Pekerjaan (KWAP) to SRC International's account in Aug 2011, the prosecution's 24th witness tells the High Court this afternoon.

Prosecution witness Wedani Senen, who is AmBank Remittance Centre's Rentas Unit manager, confirms to DPP Sulaiman Kho that the transaction took place on Aug 26, 2011.

Sulaiman: Can you tell us about this confirmation advice, what is this document?

Wedani: This is confirmation advice of money credited from KWAP to AmIslamic Bank account.

Sulaiman: What is the amount?

Wedani: RM2 billion to SRC on Aug 26, 2011.

Sulaiman: Can you confirm that this confirmation advice was issued by AmBank's Rentas Unit?

Wedani: Yes.

Earlier, the witness told the court that confirmation advice is a document that is automatically generated by the Rentas System for completion of money transferred from another bank into an AmBank account.

For monies that are transferred out from an AmBank account into another bank's account, the document is called completion advice. 


Court adjourns for lunch break

1pm - Proceedings have paused for lunch. The hearing will resume at 2.15pm. 


Najib associate Habibul called to the stand

12.30pm - Businessperson Habibul Rahman takes the stand. He describes himself as a business consultant and corporate advisor, with his company SKS specialising in mergers and handovers.

To recap, Habibul's name cropped up last Wednesday when his lawyer Ashraf Abdul Razak took the stand.

Ashraf told the court former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak had issued a cheque amounting to RM2.5 million to his law firm, although the money was meant for the businessperson.

The lawyer said he had received instructions to disburse the money to Habibul's wife and children. 


'Best way to explain 1M'sia was by giving daily essentials'

12.20pm - Witness Lew Choon Lai declares himself a strong believer in the 1Malaysia concept, and that it had been an honour to serve then premier Najib Abdul Razak in 2015.

The owner of event management company Solar Shine Sdn Bhd says this during cross-examination by Najib's lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

"I am a strong believer of 1Malaysia, so I wanted to participate, and serve such an honourable prime minister (Najib)," he says.

"He (Najib) was very generous. He was quite satisfied with my work. He wanted me to continue," Lee says.

The businessperson tells the court that the money he received from Najib was used to help the people understand better the 1Malaysia policy by giving essentials to them.

"It is to build better relationship (with people). It is difficult to explain government policy to them. The best way is to give daily essentials.

"I travelled all over Malaysia (to reach out to people)," he says, adding that he was assisted by a ground staff of 50 people at the time.

"We provided 1Malaysia T-shirts, then talk to them. This country can be safe for all, Indians, Chinese and Malays are all 1Malaysia," he says.

Lew says that they had used face-to-face engagement to gather information on public sentiment to give to Najib, rather than computers and social media.

He notes that in the beginning, the people were very receptive to their approach when taking goodies, but sentiment on the ground changed later due to social media.

"(We stopped the 1Malaysia promotion work) After the 14th general election. We were devastated. It was our dream to build 1Malaysia," he says.

He reiterates that all the funds received from Najib were spent on welfare work for the poor and had not been misused. 


Najib gave event organiser RM1m to promote 1M'sia

12.07pm - The prosecution calls their 22nd witness Lew Choon Lai, who is a small-time property developer and owner of an event management company called Solar Shine Sdn Bhd.

The businessperson tells the court that his company was started in 2010, with the main activity of providing goody bags to distribute to Indians in residential areas.

His company also organised dinners for Chinese citizens in rural areas, according to Lew.

During examination-in-chief by DPP Muhammad Saifuddin Hashim Musaimi, Lew testifies that he received RM1 million in cheques personally from then prime minister Najib Abdul Razak in 2015.

He says the money was used for ground campaigns to promote the 1Malaysia policy.

Lew sas the campaigns were used to gauge public sentiment on the government's policies, after which a report had been compiled and presented to Najib. 


No cause for alarm found, says AmBank manager

11am - Witness R Uma Devi confirms she did not find anything untoward concerning transactions involving AmBank accounts related to former premier Najib Abdul Razak which would have necessitated raising the alarm. 

During cross-examination by Najib's lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah (photo), the AmBank Raja Chulan branch manager says that she found nothing untoward in the bank documents.

Uma Devi testifies that it is the duty of the bank's officer who carries out transactions for customers to verify signatures on cheques and instruction letters.

She also tells the court that it is standard procedure not to proceed with a transaction if they found an obvious mismatch with the signature specimen in their database.

The bank will then inform the customer that they cannot proceed with the transaction due to the signature mismatch, she adds.

Uma Devi also testifies that, according to available documents, the bank had not conducted any inquiry based on the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (Amlatfa) into any of the transactions involving accounts related to Najib.

Shafee: How much funds would (be needed to) trigger inquiry?

Uma Devi: Usually more than RM50,000, banks would consider.

Shafee: (The purpose of the inquiry is) to find out the sources?

Uma Devi: The purpose and the source of funds, yes.

Shafee: Looking at all documents, you came across nothing untoward in relation to this case and matters you testified on various accounts related to Najib? You have not found documents that raise the alarm pertaining to sources of funds or suspected in any way?

Uma Devi: There was none in the records.

The bank manager later testifies that all transactions involving funds amounting to RM10,000 and above which are transferred to or from overseas would need to be declared to Bank Negara.

She says the system, which had been in place before 2013, requires the customer to state, among others, the purpose of moving the funds.

Uma Devi testifies that the bank would then need a consent letter from Bank Negara, without which they would not perform the transaction.

When Shafee asks whether she knows more about alleged transfers from Saudi Arabia's Finance Ministry and Prince Faisal bin Turki into Najib's accounts, Uma Devi says that only remittance officers of the bank would have such knowledge.


'Unusual' transactions may indicate knowledge of incoming funds - banker

10.35am - AmBank Raja Chulan branch manager R Uma Devi agrees with the defence on the unusual nature of transactions involving money going in and out of the three AmBank accounts that went from overdraft to being regularised again.

During cross-examination by defence counsel Harvinderjit Singh, the witness adds that these types of transactions, in which overdrafts of the accounts are triggered and later regularised by further transactions, may indicate the person involved knows money will be coming in to settle the overdrafts.

Harvinderjit: Do you agree that the operation of these three accounts was unusual in that cheques were issued from points of time when the accounts balance did not have enough to cover (the cheques)? Can we infer the person issuing the cheques did so with no specific knowledge of the accounts' balance?

Uma Devi: Either that, or they know already that got (money) coming soon (to cover the overdraft in the accounts). We have customers who do that in regard to their accounts.


Multi-million ringgit cheques caused overdraft

9.50am - Witness AmBank Raja Chulan branch manager R Uma Devi (below, right) confirms that there was a series of rapid transactions that caused AmBank accounts ending with 880, 906 and 898 to go into overdraft over the 2014 period.

However, further transactions regularised these accounts.

During cross-examination by defence counsel Harvinderjit Singh, she confirms bank documents presented in court in relation to these transactions.

These saw cheques presented for millions that caused these accounts to go into overdraft, only for further monetary transactions into the accounts to regularise them.

Harvinderjit made reference to a bank statement for September 2014, which saw a cheque for RM5 million presented for payment, causing the 898 account to go into overdraft.

This was followed the next day by a credit transfer of RM5 million to regularise the account.

"With earlier entries and remittances, can we tell exactly which party put in this amount and what the relationship manager discloses to the bank on what the amount is for?" Harvinderjit asks Uma Devi, who replies in the affirmative.

Uma Devi adds that only the AmBank relationship manager would know what was the purpose of these transactions were.

Relationship managers are responsible for handling high-value clients, who have over RM250,000 in bank deposits. 

Uma Devi also confirms that RM10 million was transferred in and out of AmBank account ending 880 on Feb 10, 2015.


9.21am - Najib enters the dock as judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali comes into court to begin proceedings.

9.08am - It's raining heavily as Najib arrives.  Clad in a cream-coloured suit, he enters the court and takes a seat in the front row of the public gallery as he waits for proceedings to begin.


Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak 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 (Amlatfa) 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.

Proceedings will be presided by judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali and is set to kick off at 9am this morning with resumption of the defence’s cross-examination of Ambank Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager R Uma Devi.

Yesterday, the 21st prosecution witness testified that the balance for one of Najib Abdul Razak's several bank accounts with AmIslamic Bank peaked at RM1.9 billion in 2013.

Prior to this, Harvinderjit had walked Uma Devi through several transactions including the procedures required in reporting large transactions to Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM).

It was revealed that the balance of the said bank account had amounted to RM756 million in 2012.

Uma Devi also testified that approximately RM304 million was deposited into the account in 2011 by the Saudi Finance Ministry.

Yesterday, the issue of Najib returning US$620 million to a purported Saudi donor was raised during the cross-examination by Harvinderjit.

This took place when Harvinderjit read out the contents of an alleged letter from Najib dated July 30, 2013.

"I convey to you (AmBank) the instruction to convert funds in the current account of US$620 million, and to remit the foreign currency in a single transfer of personal gift I received per the authorisation letter," the lawyer recites.

Speaking to the witness, the lawyer then pointed out that there seemed to be inconsistencies between this letter and another letter that appeared to point to multiple transactions.

"Do you agree that it appears the bank had acknowledged this amount of money credited in the account was a donation and gift, and (that there was) a representation to the bank in 2013, ‘I am returning the unutilised portion back’?" Harvinderjit said, adding that this implied the money was returned to the sender.

This harked back to 2013 when Najib claimed that he not only received RM2.4 billion in donation in his personal account from a member of the Saudi royal family, but also that the then premier purportedly returned the unutilised portion of US$620 million to the alleged donor.

Earlier yesterday, Nazlan had also dismissed Najib’s application to strike out the seven charges, ruling that the accused had neither been misled nor prejudiced by the way the charges were framed.

The decision was delivered after the court had heard last Friday the application by the defence team to dismiss the charges due to Najib being allegedly misled by purported ambiguous wording of the offence in the charges.

Attorney-General Tommy Thomas leads the 13-person prosecution team, comprising 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, 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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