Sorry Najib, Your Hotshot Lawyer Can’t Possibly Win Arguments With The Bankers On Money Matters

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Apr 30 2019
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In the first week of Najib Razak’s trial, his team of legal eagles tried to paint a picture that their client, former prime minister as well as finance minister, was the “victim” in money laundering and criminal breach of trust (CBT) of over RM42 million belonging to former 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd.


Najib’s hotshot lead lawyer, Shafee Abdullah, told all and sundry – “My client does not deal with his account himself. He was misled and is a victim.” The desperate and silly plan was to establish that Najib’s partner-in-crime Jho Low and Joanna Yu (Najib’s relationship liaison manager at AmBank) were the real culprits. It was a perception game because fugitive Jho Low cannot be produced in court to be grilled.


The group of powerful defence attorneys was reduced to depending on the “Billion Dollar Whale” book written by the WSJ correspondents, Tom Wright and Bradley Hope. Like a kindergarten teacher, Najib’s lawyer cherry-picked and read out in court excerpts from the book, as if those in the court were gullible kids who believe in magic and unicorns.

Billion Dollar Whale - 1MDB Story Book

They wanted to hammer the laughable idea that the former Malaysian leader had been duped in a con job similar to Macau Scam. And they hoped the judge would be dumb enough not to realize that their client was feigning ignorance. But how could the ex-PM Najib be so stupid when he was quick to point fingers at the police for stealing his chocolate in the fridge?


The second week of the trial started on a good footing, when High Court judge Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali dismissed Najib’s application to strike out the seven charges involving RM42 million of SRC International Sdn Bhd funds. The defence lawyers wanted the charges to be thrown out of the window, arguing they were not in order, defective, ambiguous and whatnot.


After the failure to convince the judge to discharge the case, which hotshot lawyer Shafee Abdullah would normally succeed in getting during the previous Barisan Nasional administration, the defence team shifted to “Plan-B” – finding faults or loopholes with the bank. They wanted to send a message that scammers had worked, or at least had manipulated, AmBank financial system.

Muhammad Shafee Abdullah – A Lawyer of Many Hats

The name R. Uma Devi, AmBank Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager, would probably go down in history as one tough nut to crack. Najib was hoping she would be an incompetent employee, hence an unreliable witness. Turns out, she confidently reveals the money trail from SRC International to subsidiary companies Gandingan Mentari Sdn Bhd and Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd and subsequently into Najib’s accounts.


Two of Najib’s Ambank accounts received a total of RM42 million (RM27 million, RM10 million and RM5 million) from Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd – the primary juice leading to Najib being charged for money laundering and criminal breach of trust (CBT) involving money belonging to SRC International Sdn Bhd. Part of the money – RM300,000 – was used to spy on Chinese media.


Mr. Najib also spent RM240,000 for the expenses of the now-defunct news portal Malaysian Digest. Onn Hafiz Ghazi, the nephew of former Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, who happens to be Najib’s cousin, was the lucky man who owned the portal through his ownership in Vital Spire Sdn Bhd. In short, the pro-Najib portal was paid to publish “nice stories” about the crook.

Ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak - World Biggest Crook

To promote Najib’s now-defunct 1Malaysia propaganda, Solar Shine, an event management company, was paid RM1 million to run the campaign nationwide to the non-Malays, especially poor Indians and elderly Chinese. Such marketing campaign included T-shirts, lucky draws and goodie bags consisting of rice, cooking oil, curry powder, Milo and canned food.


In actual fact, witness R. Uma Devi revealed that RM64 million – more than the RM42 million initially thought – was credited into Najib’s account from the bank account of Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd. As much as the defence team tried to punch some holes attacking AmBank’s system, the 40-year-old branch manager and the prosecution team appear to be ready.


Najib’s defence has wanted to argue that the former premier and finance minister was a victim of “manipulation” and that “rogue bankers” were involved in handling his bank accounts. However, R. Uma Devi told all and sundry that all transactions involving money going into and out of Najib’s accounts were based on his instructions and mandate.

Uma Devi - AmBank Jalan Raja Chulan Branch Manager

She said AmBank had also never received any complaints from Najib about how his accounts were being managed by the bank. The best part was when the witness confirmed that Najib had signed the declaration form when he opened the accounts and that the bank statements were sent out to the account holder or persons authorised by him on a monthly basis.


As the account holder, Najib was supposed to get back to the bank within 14 days if there’s any errors, discrepancies, irregularities, unauthorised withdrawals/debits, fraudulent transactions/entries made. Najib was also supposed to take action against the bank for any wrongful or unauthorised transaction or error by the bank.


Najib had done none of those, suggesting he was happy with all the transactions, until today. The defence could only argue about the differences in the size of the signatures between the soft and hard copies of instruction letters. Yes, Najib’s hotshot lawyer, Shafee, is now accusing Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil (former CEO of SRC International) of conspiring against the former premier.

Jho Low and Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil - 1MDB and SRC Scandal

Apparently, Nik Faisal and Suboh Md Yassin were the two signatories for the transactions of RM50 million (which included the RM42 million) from SRC International Sdn Bhd to Gandingan Mentari Sdn Bhd. However, it was then-PM Najib Razak himself who appointed Nik Faisal as the “authorised personnel” to manage his three bank accounts in AmBank.


Nik Faisal has been missing since the 1MDB scandal broke in 2015, with speculations that he had been travelling to and from Indonesia – whenever he likes – even when Najib still walks the corridors of power. Mr. Suboh, former director of SRC International reportedly had surrendered to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), and has been placed under a witness protection programme.


Interestingly, witness Uma Devi also testified that Najib Razak closed three bank accounts about a month after he transferred millions to other beneficiaries. That was on 9 March, 2015 – more than 3 years before he lost power. Did Najib not check his account balances before closing them? It was only after he failed to delay his trial that his lawyers started accusing Jho Low, and now Nik Faisal.

1MDB Scandal - Money Trail From SRC Into Ex-PM Najib Razak Accounts - April 30, 2019

As testified by Uma Devi today (April 30), Najib did not flag any activities linked to his three AmBank accounts even after millions of Ringgit moved in and out. She also testified today that the former PM Najib took no action and made no complaint from 2011 to 2015 despite irregularities in the signatures of signatories he appointed via authorisation letters to the bank.


Any average Joe or Jane would be jumping mad if the monthly bank statement shows hundreds of Ringgit were transferred without their knowledge or approval. Yet, millions of Ringgit were transferred in the case of Najib, but such transactions were not alarming enough to raise his eyebrows. Uma Devi today confirmed that all cheques in Najib’s accounts can only be signed by him, not even Nik Faisal.


Additionally, Uma Devi testified that RM4 billion was credited into SRC’s current account 2112022009736. She said RM2 billion was credited into the account on Aug 29, 2011 in four tranches of RM500 million each while another RM2 billion was credited on March 28, 2012. Those monies were essentially the RM4.385 billion loan from Retirement Fund KWAP (Kumpulan Wang Persaraan) to 1MDB.

1MDB Scandal - How Najib Becomes A Billionaire and Fund His Wife’s Diamonds

When Ambank was slapped with a penalty of RM53.7 million by the Central Bank (Bank Negara) in 2015 with respect to non-compliance with certain regulations by AmBank (M) Bhd and AmBank Islamic Bhd  linked to transactions involving 1MDB, it was due to weaknesses in its reporting systems and processes. It was not about SRC, let alone about Nik Faisal cheating or manipulating Najib.


Therefore, the question about Jho Low or Nik Faisal went rogue did not arise – even after Najib happily closed all his 3 accounts on 9 March, 2015. Even if the then-PM did not bother to check his bank accounts because he was insanely cash-rich, his wife, Rosmah Mansor – largely known as the de-facto prime minister – would have her fingerprints all over his bank statements.


Besides, Najib’s highly-paid accountants would have scrutinized all those transactions for tax and legal purposes, unless, of course, he knew that he was laundering the RM64 million siphoned from pension fund KWAP. In that case, he would have deliberately kept everything away from his accountants. Either case, he most likely had committed tax evasion.

1MDB-SRC Trial - Najib Razak - Week 1 Jho Low Scam - Week 2 Nik Faisal Scam

Najib’s attorneys can keep trying to charm the court with mini propaganda that the former premier was a kind and charitable leader who gave monetary aid to the tune of RM52,680 to help fund the education of his late former private secretary’s children. But based on the money trail established, tens of millions went into his bank accounts – and get laundered within his own bank accounts.


Heck, he even had the cheek diverting close to RM3.3 million from his AmBank accounts to pay two Platinum credit cards (Master and Visa), not to mention more than RM150,000 worth of renovations on his private residence in Jalan Langgak Duta, between end 2014 and early 2015. He had written at least 15 cheques, something which only he can issue.


Banks spend literally hundreds of millions – even billions – every year perfecting their systems and operations from being gamed or rigged. There’s a reason why the bankers always win. Lawyers like Shafee Abdullah should stop wasting time finding fault with the bank. He might be a hotshot attorney, but he can’t possibly win his argument with bankers on money matters.

1MDB Scandal - Ambank Building


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They appear not well prepared and not done their homework.
Go read up case laws in Banking Law and Practice..The transactions in d banking statements sent out by Banks received monthly are CONCLUSIVE. You cannot dispute them. The customer With a 3rd party mandate holder takes ownership and is responsible for all the txs in d statement and they are confidential.

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