‘Late-night chats were for Umno’

KUALA LUMPUR: Late-night chats between Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s former Ambank relationship manager and fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, were for the benefit of Umno and not personal, the High Court heard.

Joanna Yu, formerly of AmBank, admitted to having late-night chats on BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) with Low, but clarified that the chat was about moving a RM5mil transaction for the political party.

The prosecution witness was earlier grilled by Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah over her BBM chats with Low that took place in the wee hours of the morning, particularly a chat on Aug 21, 2014 that began at 12.41am.

During a 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 I said ‘ok’.

“I asked ‘which account’ because he (Najib) has two accounts,” Yu said at Najib’s 1Malaysia Development Bhd trial here yesterday.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 doesn’t bounce.

The witness was also asked about her trips to Low’s luxurious apartment along 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 hit hard in his line of questioning during Yu’s cross-examination over the late-night BBM 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 that 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 her at such odd hours.

“I would not dare 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 instructions.

Muhammad Shafee then moved on to Low’s Jalan Kia Peng apartment, where Yu admitted to having gone there to get Low’s signature on 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 Lordship)”.

Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah then told Muhammad Shafee not to take the question further than that.

Yu eventually answered that she went to Low’s apartment for work.

“It is work. I am never alone with Jho in his apartment,” she said.

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

Yu: Yes.

Najib, 70, is on trial for 25 charges, including four for abuse of power, which allegedly resulted in RM2.28bil of financial benefit, and 21 for money laundering involving the same amount of money.

The trial continues today.

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