Second US$1.17bil ‘gift’ for Najib

KUALA LUMPUR: A member of the Saudi royal family promised an additional US$1.17bil “gift” for Datuk Seri Najib Razak “as an appreciation of his contribution to the Islamic world”, the High Court heard.

Saudi prince, Saud Abdulaziz Majid Al Saud, had promised to remit the cash gift into the former prime minister’s personal bank account via two transactions – US$375mil on Nov 1, 2011 and US$800mil on March 1, 2013, Najib’s lawyer Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed said, citing two letters purportedly from the Saudi royalty.

Last week, Najib’s defence team presented a similar letter from the same prince dated Feb 1, 2011, that promised a US$100mil cash gift to Najib, also as “a token of appreciation”.

The letters – which bore the letterhead of the Private Office of Saud Abdulaziz Majid Al Saud – stated that the gift was in view of the friendship that the two have developed over the years as well as recognition of Najib’s contribution as a modern Islamic leader.

Saud is the former governor of Madinah Province – a post he held until January 2013 – and a member of the House of Saud.

Wan Aizuddin highlighted these letters to AmBank Private Banking Capital Market Head Desk, Yap Wai Keat, 57, during cross-examination in the RM2.28bil 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) trial here yesterday.

“The letters also mentioned that 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 money will be utilised and it should not, in any event, be construed as an act of corruption since this is against the practice of Islam and the prince personally does not encourage such practices in any manner,” Wan Aizuddin said.

The lawyer asked the witness if he had any knowledge about the two letters prior to the trial, and Yap said yes.

“I think possibly because, in order to proceed with the remittance, we will need to know what is the purpose code of the money. Datuk Seri’s AmBank account relationship manager (Joanna Yu) had told me it was a gift and there are letters that came with it.

“However, I cannot confirm for sure if Joanna Yu had given me the letters at the time of these transactions.

“She might have shown it to me, but I cannot recall as I have gone through a lot of documents over the past years,” Yap said.

Najib, 69, is facing four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.28bil from 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.

The hearing before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues today.

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