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Defence grills Yu over her BBM messages

KUALA LUMPUR (July 23): Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s defence team grilled ex-AmBank relationship manager Joanna Yu Ging Ping yesterday over the BBM (formerly known as BlackBerry Messenger) messages that were recovered from her phone, which was confiscated during the 2015 raid at the AmBank Raja Chulan branch here.

During cross-examination by Najib’s lawyer Harvinderjit Singh, the witness was asked whether she had the time to go through the messages before her appearance in court.

Yu said she had gone through the BBM messages twice with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) — once at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Academy in Kuala Lumpur and another time at the MACC headquarters in Putrajaya.

She said she spent about three hours each session to go through the messages when she was recording her statements with the commission in the presence of MACC officers and deputy public prosecutors (DPPs), including Datuk V Sithambaram.

This led to Harvinderjit asking the witness whether the DPPs had directed her to certain parts of the compiled messages, zeroing in on several points that the DPP had gone through during the examination-in-chief.

“Well, I went through more than those points. I went through the entire compilation of BBM messages twice,” said Yu.

The lawyer pushed further, asking the witness if she had made backups of her BBM chat logs and suggested that the logs compiled and tendered as evidence in court do not contain the entire extent of her BBM messages with the relevant parties.

Harvinderjit also asked if she had used other chat applications during the 2013 to 2015 period, such as Telegram or WhatsApp.

Yu said she does not remember using Telegram much, though she did use WhatsApp.

The lawyer then asked the witness regarding her perception of the relationship between former AmBank group managing director Cheah Tek Kuang and fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low.

Yu said that their relationship was “amicable” but was not sure of the extent of their friendship.

“I know that they do contact each other,” she said.

“Do the three of you go for meals together?” asked the lawyer.

“I don’t join them when they meet. I know that they do meet but I don’t know if the meetings were over meals,” said Yu.

Harvinderjit also picked a BBM message that Yu sent to Jho Low, which suggested that Cheah “misses” Jho Low, as Cheah kept asking Yu about Jho Low’s whereabouts. The lawyer asked if they were “chummy” with each other.

In response, Yu pointed out that Cheah was the bank’s group managing director and therefore maintained good relationships with many clients, including Jho Low.

She added that just because Cheah kept asking about Jho Low does not mean that they were very close, as Cheah could just be looking for Jho Low due to work-related matters.

“He could have been looking for Low (Jho Low) because of a payment or maybe he needed some documents from him,” said Yu.

The defence also suggested that Cheah had received a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 as a gift from Jho Low, when he was having some problems with his previous BlackBerry phone.

Jho Low had also offered Yu two new iPhones as a gift, but she said she had declined the offer.

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

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