'Jho Low suggested code names be used for Najib’s AmBank accounts'

KUALA LUMPUR (July 23): Former AmBank relationship manager Joanna Yu Ging Ping told the High Court here yesterday that fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, whom she met in 2008, had suggested code names be used for ex-prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s accounts with the bank.

Yu is testifying in the trial involving the alleged misappropriation of  RM42 million of SRC International Sdn Bhd’s funds. 

Yesterday, Yu told the court: “This was the first individual account to have been designated with a code name, based on my dealings with my portfolio of corporate clients. The reason for the code name was based on a query made by Jho Low, who had requested for the account to be identified based on the said account number only, rather [than] by the name of the account holder to ensure confidentiality.”

Yu was referring to one of Najib’s accounts during the examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor Budiman Lutfi Mohamed.

According to Yu, she had checked with the operations of AmBank whether this was possible and was informed that a code name could be assigned, though the account would still have the identity of the account holder.

Najib’s current account with the bank was later designated the code name “AmPrivate Banking-MR”. Subsequently, three other accounts Najib opened at the bank were also given codes — AmPrivate Banking-1MY, AmPrivate Banking-MY and AmPrivate Banking Y1MY, Yu told the court.

“I am not sure who decided on the code name [AmPrivate Banking-MR] itself. I was subsequently informed by [former AmBank managing director] Cheah Tek Kuang, that the governor of Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) had been informed about this matter,” she said.

Yu said Najib’s current accounts with the bank had a high volume of transactions between 2011 and 2015.

The transactions included inward fund transfers from overseas in foreign currencies.

Yu told the court that for purposes of reporting the overseas inward fund transfers to BNM, she would ask former SRC chief executive officer and managing director Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, who is also the mandated holder to oversee Najib’s AmBank accounts, about the reasons for the transfers.

“I would enquire from Nik Faisal the purpose of the said inward funds received and was informed that the said inward funds were ‘gifts’,” Yu said.

Yu said for Najib’s savings account ending 481 and current account ending 694, the former premier had issued a mandate letter dated March 10, 2011, to Nik Faisal, empowering him to make, on Najib’s behalf, enquiries on the status and details of the accounts.

Yu said while the mandate permitted Nik Faisal to transfer money between Najib’s accounts, it did not permit him to withdraw money from the accounts.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on July 23, 2019.

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