Zeti: Najib asked me to clear his name

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Bank Negara Malaysia governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz told the High Court that Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had asked her to clear his name over the RM2.6bil in his personal bank account.

However, Zeti said she refused to obey the then prime minister’s request as she had no knowledge about his bank account.

“I was called to the Prime Minister’s Office. He (Najib) made a request for me to issue a statement that he had done nothing wrong in his account.

“I informed him that I cannot issue such a statement because I did not have knowledge of the transactions that had occurred in his account. He accepted this decision by me,” said the 46th prosecution witness at Najib’s trial involving the misappropriation of RM2.3bil from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) funds.

She said soon after the meeting, she received a call from a minister who made the same request for her to issue such a statement, to which she gave the same answer, reported Bernama.

Zeti, 76, said she had no knowledge of the RM2.6bil remitted into Najib’s personal bank account at the material time.

“Regarding the allegations made by Najib during his interview with Malaysiakini that was published on July 2, 2018, in which he claimed that I was aware of the RM2.6bil in his account at AmIslamic Bank Bhd and that I did not raise any questions about it, I wish to unequivocally state that I had no knowledge of the transactions that were undertaken in his account at that material time,” she added.

Vital statement: Zeti (right) arriving at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur to give her testimony in the 1MDB trial involving Najib. — BernamaVital statement: Zeti (right) arriving at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur to give her testimony in the 1MDB trial involving Najib. — Bernama

She said the claim made by Najib was false as at the material time, she had no knowledge that the sum of RM2.6bil had been remitted into his account and that the funds were monies that belonged to 1MDB.

Zeti said the main concern at that time was that AmBank did not report to Bank Negara the more than 500 transactions relating to the account that were suspicious or irregular, as required under Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).

When asked by deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib, Zeti told the court that no one in her family had ever taken 1MDB money.

She also told the High Court that the former group managing director of AmBank Group never mentioned any intended donations that were to be remitted into Najib’s AmBank account.

She said Cheah Tek Kuang had visited her at Bank Negara on Jan 28, 2011 and informed her that Najib was opening an account with AmIslamic Bank Bhd and that his account would be referred to in a code for the ROMS (Ringgit Operations Monitoring System).

“At no time during this meeting did Cheah ever mention any intended donations that were to be remitted into this account.

“Six weeks later, Cheah issued a letter dated March 22, 2011 to the (then) deputy governor Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus and a letter of intent was attached of a promise for a donation from one Saud Abdulaziz Majid Al Saud that was dated Feb 1, 2011 which was addressed to Najib,” she said.

“Subsequently, in a letter to Bank Negara dated June 20, 2013, Najib had sought FEA (the Foreign Exchange Administration) approval to convert an amount of up to RM2.26bil in his MYR current account to US dollars for the purposes of returning/remitting the entire amount.

“In his letter, he declared the funds as being the unutilised sum of donations and personal gifts that he had received. In cognisance of this letter, for funds that are owned by the account holder as had been declared in the letter, no approval was required under FEA rules,” she added.

Meanwhile, Zeti said the investigation paper (IP) submitted by Bank Negara to the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) with the recommendation to initiate criminal prosecution and to charge 1MDB including the senior officers was classified as “No Further Action” (NFA).

Despite all the damning evidence gathered and recorded by Bank Negara in the IP on 1MDB, the then attorney general (Tan Sri Apandi Ali), for reasons unknown, had on Sept 11, 2015 decided that the IP submitted by the central bank was to be classified as NFA, she added.

She said the IP was submitted as the 1MDB and its officers were found to have contravened provisions under the Exchange Control Act 1953 (ECA) for furnishing false information to Bank Negara in the 1MDB application for permission to make payments outside Malaysia.

Najib, 70, faces four charges of using his position to obtain bribes amounting to RM2.3bil belonging to 1MDB and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.

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