Najib affidavit shows knowledge of source of $14 million in his account: Witness

Lawyers for Malaysian leader Najib Razak, who has pleaded not guilty, argued that he was misled by others, including a former CEO of SRC who is at large. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR - Former Malaysian leader Najib Razak's 1MDB trial sheds light on his links to fugitive financier Jho Low in deals involving a former unit of the troubled state fund, Bloomberg reported.

A Kuala Lumpur court heard dozens of witness testimonies related to the RM42 million (S$14 million) found in Najib's personal accounts which allegedly came from SRC International, once a unit of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Lawyers for Najib, who has pleaded not guilty, argued that he was misled by others, including a former CEO of SRC who is at large. The current trial revolves around seven of the total 42 charges that Najib faces for his alleged role in 1MDB, Bloomberg said.

Najib's next trial is set to begin on Aug 19 after the judge rejected Attorney-General Tommy Thomas's request for a delay until after the current proceeding is completed.

The trial was interrupted on Thursday as the courthouse was evacuated due to a bomb threat.

The 1MDB hearing for Goldman Sachs Group was pushed back to Sept 30 as the process of filing the charges was incomplete.

While Najib had denied knowing the source of the RM42 million, the court heard from a witness that the former premier had sent an affidavit in February 2016 showing he knew the money came through SRC units Gandingan Mentari and Ihsan Perdana, Bloomberg reported.

The 55th prosecution witness Ranjit Singh, had represented former Cabinet minister Ling Liong Sik in a defamation suit filed by Najib, The Edge online news reported on Monday. Tan Sri Ling was sued by Najib for calling a thief in 2015 for putting public money into his account,

Lawyer Mr Ranjjit referred to Najib's affidavit dated Feb 23, 2016 in the Ling case where Najib said US$700 million had entered his account and said it was a donation, while RM42 million, which originated from SRC, was banked into his account without him knowing it was channelled through the two companies.

But Najib later withdrew the suit and agreed to pay costs of RM25,000 to Dr Ling, said Mr Ranjit, The Edge said.

Najib lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told the court that Mr Ranjit's testimony was irrelevant. Tan Sri Shafee added that the defence would not make a submission on the evidence given on this, though it might raise the matter when defence is called, the online new site said.

Separately, former AmBank relationship manager Joanna Yu said that Jho Low was her point of contact in sorting out issues with Najib's accounts, which were assigned a code name by request from Low.

Yu confirmed fund transfers to the accounts, including a US$681 million from Tanore Finance Corp, of which US$620 million were returned with Low's direct involvement, she said on the witness stand, Bloomberg reported.

Yu said that Low was the one who represented the funds as gifts or donations and provided supporting letters from the alleged senders. That was also the case for another US$75 million transfer that Low described as "super sensitive" and said will be followed by a supporting letter from Saudi Arabia, she said.

Low, whose whereabouts are not known, has consistently denied any wrongdoing in response to multiple charges filed against him in Malaysia and in the US.

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