KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here today was told that Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak was promised an additional US$1.17 billion cash gift from an individual alleged to be a member of the Saudi royal family as an appreciation for the former premier’s significant work in introducing Islam to the rest of the world.
Based on the two letters read in court by Najib’s counsel Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed, the cash gift was promised to be remitted into Najib’s personal bank account by a Saudi prince, Saud Abdulaziz Majid Al Saud via two transactions, namely US$375 million on Nov 1, 2011, and US$800 million on March 1, 2013.
Last week, Najib’s defence team presented another purported letter from the same Saudi prince dated Feb 1, 2011, that allegedly promised a US$100 million cash gift to Najib as a recognition for his contribution to the Islamic world.
Bearing a letterhead by the Private Office of Saud Abdulaziz Majid Al Saud, who was the former governor of Madinah Province and a member of the House of Saud, the letters stated that the gift was in view of the friendship that the two have developed over the years as well as recognising Najib’s new ideas as a modern Islamic leader.
Wan Aizuddin was referring the letters to the 38th prosecution witness, AmBank Private Banking Capital Market Head Desk, Yap Wai Keat, 57, during cross-examination at Najib’s trial involving the misappropriation of RM2.3 billion from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
“The letters also mentioned the cash gift shall be remitted to Datuk Seri Najib’s account via the prince’s personal bank account or through His Highness’ instructed companies bank accounts, Tanore Finance Corporation and Blackstone Asia Real Estate Partners Limited.
“It was also alluded in the letters that Datuk Seri Najib shall have absolute discretion to determine how the monies will be utilised and it (monies) should not, in any event, be construed as an act of corruption since this is against the practice of Islam and the prince personally do not encourage such practices (corruption) in any manner,” the lawyer said.
It was previously reported that the United States Department of Justice had identified that Tanore Finance Corporation and Blackstone Asia Real Estate Partners Limited were controlled by fugitive businessman, Low Taek Jho (Jho Low) using the identity of his associate Eric Tan Kim Loong.
Wan Aizuddin then questioned the witness whether he had any knowledge about the two letters prior to this 1MDB trial, which the witness answered in the positive.
“I think possibly (have knowledge of the letters) because, in order to proceed with the remittance, we will need to know what is the purpose code of these monies, whereby Datuk Seri’s AmBank account relationship manager (Joanna Yu) had told me that it was a gift and there are letters that came with it.
“However, I cannot confirm for sure whether there was a possibility that Joanna Yu had given me the letters at the point of time of these transactions.
“She might have shown to me, but I cannot recall due to a lot of documents which I have gone through for the past years,” said the witness who is handling AmBank’s foreign exchange deposits from 2010 until 2014.
Najib, 69, is facing four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion from 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.
The trial before judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues this afternoon. - Bernama