Zeti: BNM Did Not Know At First If 1MDB Funds Went Into Najib’s Account

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Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz denied the investigation was aimed at finding a way to charge then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and to topple the government - MH Graphics
Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz denied the investigation was aimed at finding a way to charge then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and to topple the government - MH Graphics

Former Bank Negara Malaysia governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz also informed the High Court that none of her family members has ever “received” or “taken” funds from 1MDB

KUALA LUMPUR – Former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz told the High Court today that the former Group Managing Director of AmBank Group never mentioned any intended donations that were to be remitted into Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s AmBank account.

As such, BNM was unaware at first of the various large amount transactions in Najib’s three personal AmBank Accounts and if they were from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Zeti, 76, said Cheah Tek Kuang had paid her a courtesy visit at BNM on 28 Jan 2011 and informed that Najib, who was the Prime Minister at that time, was opening an account with AmIslamic Bank Berhad and that his account would be referred to in a code for the ROMS (Ringgit Operations Monitoring System).

Zeti: Account Opening Procedure Was In Compliance With Rules Set

Reading her witness statement, the 46th prosecution witness said although the account was coded as “AmPrivate Banking – MR” for ROMS, the opening of the account was in compliance with the rules set, that is, all personal accounts opened by the account holder must be under the name of the account holder as stated in the National Identity Card and not by any other name.

“Nothing further was discussed and the meeting was short. 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.

She said this under examination-in-chief by Deputy Public Prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib at the former Pekan MP’s trial involving the misappropriation of RM2.3 billion from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). 

Former BNM governor, Zeti Aziz, arriving at the Kuala Lumpur High Court to present her witness statement in the 1MDB trial involving former premier Najib Razak - Pic credit: My-TV.Online
Former BNM governor, Zeti Aziz, arriving at the Kuala Lumpur High Court to present her witness statement in the 1MDB trial involving former premier Najib Razak – Pic credit: My-TV.Online

Zeti said after receiving the letter from Cheah on 22 March 2011, no further information pertaining to Najib’s account was received from Ambank, adding that there was no information on the funds that were remitted into the account or that the said funds were irregular or suspicious.

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

Personal Donation

“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 the FEA rules,” she said.

In addition, Zeti also refuted claims that her family had received any benefit from the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) financial scandal.

Zeti said this when asked by Deputy Public Prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib.

“No one in my family has ever received or taken 1MDB’s money. Not a single sen,” she uttered explicitly.

In February 2022, it was reported that Tim Leissner, a former Goldman Sachs Southeast Asia chairman had spoken about bribes involving Zeti’s husband Datuk Dr Tawfiq Ayman in relation to a joint project between PetroSaudi and 1MDB.

He said this when testifying at the trial of his former employee, banker Roger Ng, at the Brooklyn High Court in New York.

Ng was formerly Goldman Sachs’ investment chief in Malaysia.

Based on court transcripts, Leissner made the allegations in response to questions from the prosecutor on his role in the PetroSaudi-1MDB cooperation.

Leissner was quoted as saying that he learnt via Ng that 1MDB had invested US$1 billion in the project.

Capital Controls In Place

Leissner also claimed that in 2009, Malaysia still had capital controls in place, which required an investment that was significant to be approved by BNM, in terms of outflow of funds.

Ng, he claimed, had told him he learnt that the money was transferred within a short period of time.

This, he alleged, was accomplished because the husband of the BNM governor at the time was given a bribe to facilitate this.

Leissner, however, had said he could not verify whether the bribe was indeed received or otherwise.

Tawfiq, later issued a press statement to refute Leissner’s allegations via law firm Messrs Jagjit, Ariff & Co.

Tawfiq said he was shocked with the statements made against him by Leissner as reported in the media.

He said he did not know Leissner or Ng and neither had he met nor ever communicated with either of them.

Further to that, Najib had previously claimed Zeti’s family received money from fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho.

In an application filed in court previously, Najib had asked for the prosecution to produce banking statements from several companies, including Aktis Capital Singapore Pte Ltd, Country Group Securities Public Company Ltd, Acme Time Ltd (BVI), Butamba Investments Ltd and Central Holdings Ltd.

Najib had claimed the companies were linked to Low’s and Zeti’s families.

The former prime minister also asked the prosecution to produce a confidential settlement agreement between the government and the Goldman Sachs Group in 2020, and transcripts of a forensic report on former banker Tim Leissner’s mobile phones.

Application Dismissed

However, both the High Court and Court of Appeal dismissed the application, holding that the documents were not relevant to the money laundering and abuse of power charges faced by Najib.

The courts also said Najib was not entitled to obtain witness statements recorded by the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) during investigations because there was a danger of tampering.

Najib withdrew his appeal to get these documents before the Federal Court last month.

However, his lawyers indicated to the apex court that they will raise this matter during the trial in the High Court.

The trial before Justice Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues. – Mediahit

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