Crime & Courts

Letter from Saudi royalty takes centrestage in Najib's corruption trial

KUALA LUMPUR: A letter from Saudi royalty became the highlight of Datuk Seri Najib Razak's corruption trial at the High Court today for misappropriating 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds.

Najib's defence team produced the letter to prove their contention that millions remitted into the former prime minister's personal bank account was a donation from the Saudi monarch.

The letter signed by Prince Saud Abdulaziz Al-Saud in Feb 1, 2011, was also produced in another corruption trial involving SRC International Sdn Bhd funds.

However, the presiding judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali who was then the High Court judge, rebuked the authenticity of the letter.

Abdulaziz Majid was the governor of Madinah at the time of the letter, and is the grandson of the late King Abdulaziz.

Najib's counsel Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed when reading the letter said the document was issued to recognise Najib's contribution to the Islamic world.

It stated that the prince granted Najib a sum of US$100 million as a gift which was to be remitted to Najib's account.

It said Najib shall have absolute discretion to determine how the gift shall be utilised to promote Islam so it continues to flourish.

The prince added he did not expect to receive any personal benefit whether directly or indirectly as a result of the gift.

In today's proceedings, Wan Aizuddin questioned Ambank's Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager R. Uma Devi about the letter, to which the latter responded in the negative.

Wan Aizuddin zoomed in on the deposits amounting to RM60.6 million and RM30.2 million received by Najib between February and June 2011.

Wan Aizuddin: Would you agree that there is an irresistible conclusion that the US$100 million mentioned in the letter and these two transactions would be a personal gift?

Uma Devi: I cannot conclude because the amount differs and also not sure whether the letter was given to the bank prior to transactions.

The 43-year-old banker also testified that nothing was done to stop the remittance of US$620 million into Najib's bank account in August 2013.

Uma Devi said that no red flag was triggered by the bank when the transactions took place. However, she did not give any explanation on this.

She said there were several trigger points that the bank looks into, such as the amount of transfer, the purpose, and disclosure of information from the customer.

"A screening will be done based on these trigger points.

"The customer will not be informed (of red flag) as this would alert them," she said.

Najib is facing four charges of using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3 billion from 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.

The trial before judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues.

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