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“Jho Low stepped in after Najib hit US$100,000 credit card snag at Chanel store”

July 23, 2019

* Day 41: Jho Low was asked to close Najib’s accounts over Amla red flag 

Fugitive businessperson Low Taek Jho (photo, above) had stepped in after then prime minister Najib Abdul Razak complained about hitting a credit card snag at a Chanel store in Hawaii, the Kuala Lumpur High Court was told.

Testifying on the 41st day of Najib’s SRC International Sdn Bhd graft trial, Joanna Yu Ging Ping, the relationship manager handling Najib’s Ambank accounts, said she had received a forwarded message from Low, purportedly from Najib about his problem.This was revealed to the court when deputy public prosecutor V Sithambaram walked Yu through her communications with Low through Blackberry Messenger (BBM).

Sithambaram: I invite you to read from (the timestamp) 14.10.

Yu: “Not going through, Jho. Can you call Ambank Visa and Mastercard? From MNR3.”

Sithambaram: When you saw MNR3, who do you think it was?

Yu: When I received this from Jho, I believed it had come from Najib.

Sithambaram: Forwarded message?

Yu: Yes.

Yu told the court she explained to Low that it could be the bank’s “stupid” credit card system, prompting Low to ask that she check the matter as soon as possible.

“Jho said it was urgent, and he (Najib) is in Hawaii and wants to charge US$100,000. I said the system is okay. They (the bank’s credit card department) asked to try again. They are on standby to clear the transaction.

“Jho asked if it will work, and I replied they checked and it seemed okay. He said ‘are you sure?’. I said that’s from what they (the credit card department) can see.

“Jho asked, is US$100,000 in one transaction any problem? I said they said to try again… and then I told him the transaction has been cleared,” she said.

The conversation took place on Dec 23, 2014, a day ahead of the purported transaction in Hawaii due to timezone difference.

Subsequently, Sithambaram referred Yu to a US$130,625 transaction from the Chanel store in Honolulu, Hawaii on Dec 22, 2014. She confirmed the transaction was charged to Najib’s Visa platinum card with a number ending in 5496.

The Chanel purchase is a key element in the prosecution’s case and was raised in attorney-general Tommy Thomas’ opening statement at the start of Najib’s trial.

The prosecution is alleging that funds from SRC International, a state-owned company, was, among others, used to pay off Najib’s credit card purchases.

During the trial today, Yu also testified that Low can help facilitate and resolve issues when Najib’s bank accounts were overdrawn.

She said due to Najib’s status, the bank did not dishonour cheques issued by the then prime minister but would contact SRC International chief executive officer Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, who is the mandate holder for Najib’s bank accounts.

However, Yu said she would contact Low when Nik Faisal was unreachable even though the former is not a mandate holder.

Sithambaram: How do you describe Jho Low’s role with the accounts?

Yu: I would think he may not have the mandate for written instructions, but he can facilitate the mandate holder on the insufficient funds.

Sithambaram: What made you believe he is a facilitator?

Yu: Because there were certain instances when I can’t get hold of Nik, I told him (low) the account is overdrawn, he said okay and then someone came to deposit money or Nik will contact me with instructions. He made me believed he can solve the problem (concerning Najib’s accounts).

Yu said Low was the go-between Najib and the bank before Nik Faisal was appointed as the mandate holder.

“Many times we received messages from him that Najib had issued cheques and to check if Najib’s accounts were overdrawn,” she said.

One instant, she said, was on May 16, 2014, when she received a message from Low saying: “Please check if Ambank account is overdrawn. Boss said he wrote a big cheque.”

Sithambaram then asked Yu to confirm the cheque, which she mentioned was for RM10 million.

Najib is facing three counts of criminal breach of trust, three money laundering charges and one abuse of power charge concerning a sum of RM42 million from SRC International.

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From → Malaysia Upclose

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