KUALA LUMPUR: Former Bank Negara Governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz on Monday (Aug 28) revealed at the High Court here that the central bank had in fact recommended a penalty amounting to RM23mil against 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) but the Attorney-General (AG) then reduced the fine to RM15mil.
The 76-year-old witness said, in order to impose a penalty, Bank Negara needed the consent or permission of the AG at the material time.
"The AG refused the amount recommended by us. We (Bank Negara) recommended RM23mil, however, the AG reduced it to RM15mil," she said.
The 46th prosecution witness said this when asked by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah at the former premier’s trial involving alleged misappropriation of RM2.3bil of 1MDB funds.
For the record, Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali was Attorney-General at the material time.
In her witness statement, Zeti mentioned that the inability of 1MDB to bring the monies back and to provide evidence on the status of the funds, resulted in a compound being imposed on the sovereign wealth fund. 1MDB paid the compound on May 25, 2016.
Muhammad Shafee: Were there any attempts by the then finance minister (Najib) to waive this fine imposed on 1MDB?
Zeti answered, "I have no knowledge".
Apart from that, Zeti also insisted that AmBank did inform her that Najib would be opening an account with the bank, but said the bank’s managing director Cheah Tek Kuang did not tell her that there were expected incoming donations.
Once again, Zeti maintained that the central bank did not conduct due diligence on individual accounts, and that was the duty of the respective financial institution.
Zeti’s testimony contradicts Cheah’s previous testimony as the 39th prosecution witness in the same 1MDB trial, where the latter said he had told Zeti about the purported incoming "donation".
Cheah had previously on Oct 4, 2022, told the High Court that he had followed AmBank’s chairman’s instruction and went to Najib’s house in early 2011 to help the latter with the bank account opening documents, where Najib claimed that there will be a US$100mil donation coming in from the Saudi Arabian government for him for Islamic activities.
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.
The trial before Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues on Tuesday (Aug 29). - Bernama