Ex-AmBank CEO tried to cover up misconduct, says Zeti

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz told the High Court here that former AmBank CEO Ashok Ramamurthy had attempted to conceal his wrongdoings in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) financial scandal.

She claimed that Ashok, an Australian, had "every reason" to say something against her for this purpose to cover up.

"It was during his tenure (at AmBank) that the bank was penalised with the biggest compound in banking history," she said.

Zeti - the 46th prosecution witness - also said that AmBank failed to exercise due diligence before releasing the funds from 1MDB.

She was recalled to the stand for re-examination by Deputy Public Prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib at Datuk Seri Najib Razak's RM2.28bil 1MDB trial here on Thursday (May 30).

Earlier, DPP Ahmad Akram told Zeti that Ashok had given a different version from what she had been telling the court about their meeting to discuss the opening of Najib’s bank account at AmBank.

In Ashok's statement, he said he sent several letters to Zeti to update her about funds entering the former prime minister’s account allegedly from Saudi Arabia.

Zeti has categorically denied this.

DPP Ahmad Akram: In your knowledge, is there any reason he (Ashok) wants to do this?

Zeti: Yes. He wanted to cover up his wrongdoing during his time as the CEO. It starts from the very beginning.

On the bank's due diligence, Zeti said the institution failed to exercise due diligence when it came to 1MDB.

She said AmBank committed a serious offence when they fabricated their transactions involving Good Star Ltd.

“In the case of other financial institutions, they did due diligence and that is when they found out that the funds (from 1MDB) went into Good Star," she said.

The court had previously heard that Good Star is an offshore company linked to fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low.

Najib, 70, is on trial for 25 charges in total - four for abuse of power that allegedly brought him the financial benefit to the tune of RM2.28bil; and 21 for money laundering involving the same amount of money.

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