1MDB trial: Ex-banker says never struck her someone would use Najib's account for money laundering

KUALA LUMPUR: It is implausible for a prime minister's bank account to be used for money laundering, the High Court heard.

Joanna Yu, 51, who is the former relationship manager for Datuk Seri Najib Razak's accounts at AmBank, said it did not cross her mind that the transactions that were happening via Najib's bank accounts were related to money laundering.

The prosecution witness said this during a cross-examination by Najib's lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah during the RM2.28bil 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) trial here on Tuesday (Feb 7).

Muhammad Shafee was asking Yu about the different code names that fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, or better known as Jho Low, had been using to signal different currencies.

Low, whom the defence had contended to be the mastermind in the 1MDB scandal, had used "American Pie" to refer to US dollars and "Satays" for Malaysian ringgit in his chats with Yu in relation to Najib's accounts.

The lawyer said that code names were often used by those engaging in money laundering and the bank should have been alerted by such behaviour.

Yu responded that the details had to be kept confidential since it involved the prime minister's bank account.

"We only did as instructed, to keep (Najib's) the account confidential," Yu said.

Muhammad Shafee: You believed in Low completely?

Yu: I believed that.

Muhammad Shafee: It never crossed your mind that the transactions related to money laundering?

Yu: It did not strike me that someone would use the (then) prime minister’s account to do money laundering.

Najib, 70, is on trial for 25 charges in total - four for abuse of power that allegedly brought him financial benefit to the tune of RM2.28bil; and 21 for money laundering involving the same amount of money.

The trial continues before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah this afternoon.

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