Najib's appeal in suit against AMMB, AmBank and Joanna Yu fixed for June

(Photo by Mohd Suhaimi Mohamed Yusuf/The Edge)

(Photo by Mohd Suhaimi Mohamed Yusuf/The Edge)

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PUTRAJAYA (Feb 19): Datuk Seri Najib Razak's appeal over the dismissal of his suit against against AMMB Holdings Bhd, AmBank Islamic Bank Bhd and the bank's former customer relationship manager Joanna Yu Ging Ping has been fixed for hearing in the Court of Appeal (COA) on June 25.

Yu's counsel Datuk Dr Gurdial Singh Nijar when contacted by confirmed the hearing date of the appeal following case management of the case yesterday.

“The hearing of the appeal has been fixed for Friday, June 25,” he said, adding that the case management today was by COA senior assistant registrar KB Elena Hong Tze Lan.

Last Sept 28, Kuala Lumpur High Court Justice Datuk Khadijah Idris struck out Najib's suit on the grounds that it was an abuse of the court process as the former premier had filed it to bolster his defence in the SRC International Sdn Bhd case.

“This action is not filed by the plaintiff (Najib) to seek damages, but for a collateral purpose; this is simply an abuse of court process,” she said, adding that Najib sought proceedings against the bank and Yu when the SRC case had come up and not years before, when the events initially began to unfold.

“The plaintiff’s actions are scandalous, frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of the court process,” Justice Khadijah said in striking out the suit.

Najib filed the suit against Yu over the management of accounts under his name to divert funds from SRC.

Najib named AmBank Islamic Bank Bhd and AMMB Holdings Bhd for breach of duty and negligence in handling his accounts, which had resulted in the former premier being convicted in the SRC trial for misappropriating RM42 million.

The Pekan Member of Parliament (MP) was sentenced to 12 years' jail and fined RM210 million by the High Court criminal division last July 28 for all seven charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT) and money laundering with regard to the RM42 million in SRC funds and abuse of power with regard to the RM4 billion loans awarded by Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) to SRC.

Justice Khadijah from the High Court's commercial division said Najib’s suit was “unsustainable” as the bank and its holding company did not have any contractual relationship with the former premier as to the management of his accounts at the bank.

The judge then awarded a cumulative amount of RM30,000 to AmBank and AMMB, which had jointly applied to strike out the suit. Yu, meanwhile, who had also filed an application to strike out the suit, was awarded RM25,000 costs to be paid by the former premier.

The bank was represented by counsel Yoong Sin Min and Benjamin Dawson in the High Court.

Najib filed the suit in 2019, where it concerns his AmBank accounts ending 694, 880, 898 and 906, which Najib claimed were managed by the bank without his knowledge.

He claimed AmBank and Yu breached their duties and were negligent in the affairs concerning the accounts as they had disclosed information to fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho (Jho Low), whom the suit referred to as an unauthorised third party.

This includes information on the balances of funds, details of cheques, credit and debit remittance transactions and bank account statements, as well as confirmations of cheques issued.

Najib also claimed that the bank and Yu acted on Jho Low's instructions to actively ensure the accounts and other banking statements were kept away from the former premier, and they failed to contact him directly to inform that Jho Low was seeking disclosure of information and documents.

With regard to the 880, 898 and 906 accounts, Yu, under Jho Low's instruction, also disclosed information to “other unauthorised third parties including Kee Kok Thiam, Ung Su Ling and Jerome Lee Tak Loong”, and dealt with them despite them being unauthorised third parties, according to the statement of claim.

Surin Murugiah