Malaysia's ex-premier Najib loses suit against bank, former officer in case related to 1MDB

Najib Razak claimed that the defendants failed to report to and get direct instructions from him on matters regarding his bank accounts. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A former bank officer, together with AmBank Islamic and AMMB Holdings, has successfully struck out a suit filed by former prime minister Najib Razak over allegations of mishandling his bank accounts.

High Court Judge Khadijah Idris, in allowing the application by Ms Joanna Yu and the two banks, said on Monday (Sept 28) that Najib's suit was unsustainable, scandalous, frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of court process.

In her ruling, the judge also took note that Najib initiated the suit against Ms Yu and the two entities after she testified in Najib's trial involving SRC International, a company that was formerly a unit of state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB.

Ms Yu was the 54th prosecution witness testifying against Najib in the trial.

Ms Yu was the former relationship manager who handled Najib's accounts at the AmBank Group, while both AmBank Islamic and AMMB are part of the AmBank Group.

"This action by the plaintiff is not to seek damages but for a collateral purpose to bolster the plaintiff's defence in the SRC case and thus an abuse of court process," Justice Khadijah said.

The court on Monday also ordered Najib to pay RM30,000 (S$9,888) in costs to AmBank and AMMB Holdings, and RM25,000 in costs to Ms Yu.

Lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who represents Najib, told the court on Monday that they would be filing an appeal against the decision soon.

Both Ms Yu and Najib were not in court during the proceedings.

Najib has been convicted in the SRC International case.

On July 28, the Kuala Lumpur High Court sentenced Najib to 12 years' imprisonment and fined him RM210 million for misappropriating RM42 million in SRC International funds. The funds were banked into AmBank accounts.

He is appealing against the conviction.

On Dec 9 last year, Najib filed the lawsuit at the High Court registry and named AmBank, AMMB Holdings and Ms Yu as defendants.

According to the statement of claim, the plaintiff contended that AmBank and Ms Yu had committed negligence when handling Najib's bank accounts - with numbers ending with 694, 880, 898 and 906 - by disclosing these to fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low.

Najib claimed that the defendants had without authorisation disclosed his bank statements, debit and credit remittance transactions, and balances of funds of account 694 to Low as the third party.

He claimed that the defendants did not engage with him to report on Low's actions regarding the said bank account and that the bank had facilitated the unauthorised third party to make money transfers between accounts 880, 898 and 906.

Najib claimed that he had been kept in the dark about the details of his own bank account statements and other related documents by the bank under Low's instruction.

He alleged that Low, with the help of other unauthorised third parties, had made 20 transactions to regularise the accounts totalling RM12 million through several local and foreign remittances of funds and that the accounts had been "red-flagged" by Bank Negara.

He claimed that the defendants failed to report and get direct instructions from him despite the accounts being red-flagged.

Najib also claimed that he discovered the act committed by the defendants only during the SRC International trial after the prosecution had revealed the conversations between Ms Yu and third parties.

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