1MDB trial: My late-night chats with Jho Low was about moving funds to Umno, says ex-banker

KUALA LUMPUR: Conversations between former AmBank customer relationship manager and fugitive financier Low Taek Jho that took place late at night were for the benefit of Umno, the High Court heard.

Joanna Yu, formerly of AmBank, admitted to having late night BlackBerry Messenger chats with Low, or better known as Jho Low, but clarified that it was about a RM5mil transaction to Umno.

The prosecution witness was earlier grilled by Datuk Seri Najib Razak's lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah over her text chats with Low which took place late at night, particularly a chat on Aug 21, 2014, that began at 12.41am.

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

During re-examination by Deputy Public Prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib, Yu said that Low had informed her about a RM5mil cheque for Umno.

"I probably read the message around 1am and said 'ok'.

"I asked 'which account' because he (Najib) has two," Yu said at Najib's 1Malaysia Development Bhd trial here on Wednesday (Feb 8).

DPP Ahmad Akram: So it (the chat) was about money to be paid to Umno? To whose benefit is this?

Yu: Umno, I suppose.

DPP Ahmad Akram: The conversation you had late at night was not for the benefit of you or Jho Low, but for Umno?

Yu: Yes, to make sure the cheque didn't bounce.

The witness was also asked about her trips to Low's apartment on Jalan Kia Peng.

She said she would go to the apartment to get Low's signature on bank papers relating to 1MDB projects.

DPP Ahmad Akram: It's not for any personal thing between you and Jho Low?

Yu: No. And for Jho Low's other accounts.

Earlier, Muhammad Shafee took a hard line of questioning during Yu's cross-examination over the late night chats where he insinuated that Yu's relationship with Low was inappropriate.

"I wish I had a banker who would stay up all night to get my instructions. You'd stay up late at night, early in the morning, at 5am with Jho Low," Muhammad Shafee said.

To this, Yu replied that the 5am chats were from Low but she only responded to him at 7am.

Muhammad Shafee: (referring to another time stamp on the chat) You respond to him at 1am. Odd.

Yu: Before I went to bed? Yes.

Muhammad Shafee suggested that Yu's relationship with Low was "so close" that he would contact Yu at such odd hours.

"I would not dare to contact my banker (that way) no matter how young she is," Muhammad Shafee said.

Yu admitted to replying to Low at 1am but only to say "okay" to his instruction.

Muhammad Shafee then moved to the subject of Low's Jalan Kia Peng apartment, where Yu admitted she had gone to for him to sign urgent documents.

Muhammad Shafee: Were you married then?

Yu: Yes.

Muhammad Shafee: Your husband doesn't mind?

At this point, Deputy Public Prosecutor Deepa Nair Thevaharan objected to the question and said: "It is very inappropriate to ask, Yang Arif (Your Honour)".

Justice Sequerah then told Muhammad Shafee not to take the question further.

Yu eventually answered that she had gone to Low's apartment for work.

"It was work. I was never alone with Jho in his apartment," she said.

Muhammad Shafee: You are saying now you were never alone with Jho. Was he always with someone else?

Yu: Yes.

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 Wednesday afternoon.

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