1MDB trial: It was stressful to handle a PM's bank account, says witness

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Razak's former bank relationship manager told the High Court that it was stressful to handle the accounts of a prime minister.

Joanna Yu (pic), who handled Najib’s accounts with AmBank, also testified that it took her by surprise when fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, informed her of the former premier's intention to open an account with AmBank.

"I was a bit shocked because I didn't think the prime minister of Malaysia would want to open an account with AmBank.

"I assume, he would go to government banks or Maybank," said the prosecution witness.

According to Yu, Low however told her it was "not her level" to facilitate the opening of the bank account and that it had to be Cheah Tek Kuang (former AmBank managing director) or above to meet up with Najib.

"So, when it started, I didn't have any feeling of what to expect. We just proceed and Cheah was going to meet with Datuk Seri (Najib)," Yu recalled.

As time passed by, Yu said Najib's account was overdrawn and there was pressure to bounce cheques.

"But we were told we cannot bounce cheques because he is the prime minister. I was under pressure. So, it was stressful and challenging," she said.

The witness was testifying in a re-examination by Deputy Public Prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib at Najib’s trial involving the misappropriation of RM2.28bil from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds here on Wednesday (Feb 8).

DPP Ahmad Akram: If you let cheques bounce, what do you think would happen?

Yu: I do not know. We were concerned with the negative media reports if the prime minister’s cheques were to bounce. It could be anything. These were cheques issued by the PM of Malaysia. Anything can happen. It was a risk to the PM's reputation. I was very stressed at the time.

DPP Ahmad Akram: You said the media may pick up and the PM’s name would be smeared if the cheques were allowed to bounce. Why do you think so?

Yu: This is Malaysia. I cannot say for sure, but I remember it was political, and this is the PM’s account. We did not allow cheques to bounce as we do not want repercussions for the bank and Malaysia.

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 hearing before Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues on Thursday (Feb 9).

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Najib Razak , AmBank , Joanna Yu , Jho Low , 1MDB trial


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