Najib wanted to return unused 'donation' to benefactor, defence shows

Najib talking to lead defence counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah at the Kuala Lumpur High Court during the five-minute break this morning. Photos by Shahrin Yahya/The Edge

Former AmBank managing director Cheah Tek Kuang, the prosecution's 50th witness, is cross-examined again today.

-A +A

KUALA LUMPUR (July 18): Former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak expressed his desire to return US$620 million from his private AmBank account to the benefactor that the amount originally came from, the defence team showed.

Defence lawyer Harvinderjit Singh asked former AmBank managing director, Cheah Tek Kuang, 72, whether he knew about this.

"In 2013, you were told the account holder (Najib) wanted to return the money from account 694 to the sender. In a letter by Najib which was copied to you, he said US$620 million is to be remitted in a single transfer out of the AmBank account, which represents the unused donation, to be returned to the benefactor which will be listed later," the lawyer said.

"Actually, I didn't receive the letter. I may have been copied but it doesn't mean I received the letter," the prosecution's 50th witness replied.

"But you knew about the remittance?" asked Harvinderjit.

"I believe Joanna Yu (AmBank relationship manager) must have mentioned.

"So did you know or not?" the lawyer pressed.

"Yes, I did," said Cheah.

Najib's current account 211-202-2009-694 with AmBank was opened in 2011 and closed in 2013.

The lawyer was cross-examining the witness in reference to several BlackBerry Messenger transcripts between Yu and the witness on the 40th day of Najib's SRC International Sdn Bhd trial. Najib is facing multiple charges of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money laundering involving RM42 million of SRC funds.

Harvinderjit then brought to the witness' attention his message with Yu following the bank transfer of the said amount, in which the witness texted "You must be relieved".

"Why did you say that Mr Cheah? Was it to indicate the load of work that took place prior to the transfer?" he asked.

"Yes I guess," the witness responded.

For the remaining part of Cheah's cross-examination, which ended not too long after, Harvinderjit ran through a few other BlackBerry Messenger conversations from Yu's phone where she talked about Cheah with another person, and implied that the third person is Low Taek Jho, more popularly known as Jho Low.

According to the conversation, this unnamed third person has been to Putrajaya, met with and spoken to Cheah on several occasions, and have also gifted four iPhone 5S — two for Yu and two for Cheah in 2013.

It also mentioned that Cheah had met then-Bank Negara Malaysia governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz previously, and how Cheah "misses" the third person, according to Yu.

"I would say it did not happen. I never collected the phones," Cheah said.