Crime & Courts

Former banker admits BSI bank didn't check on Jho Low's claim acting on behalf of Najib

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here was told today that a simple counter-check by the bank would confirm fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho's claim that he was acting on behalf of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's instructions in matters concerning SRC International Sdn Bhd's affairs.

Former BSI Bank Head of Wealth Management Services, Kevin Micheal Swampillai, 64, also agreed with counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, representing Najib, that a simple check would also prevent millions of dollars from being funnelled from SRC International into SRC International (Malaysia) Limited's (SRC BVI) account at the BSI.

Questioned by Muhammad Shafee, Swampillai admitted that he was aware that Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, made representations that he was acting for SRC International under instructions from Najib, although he (Jho Low) had no documents to back it up.

Muhammad Shafee: Name-dropping is quite a common culture in Malaysia, I am not sure how it was in Singapore. Here, we call it "jual nama."

Swampillai: Yes I am aware of it.

Muhammad Shafee: You know that Jho Low has this habit of name-dropping. You admitted it in your witness statement before. Unfortunately, nobody, not even the officer from the (BSI) bank can determine whether the government of Malaysia was in fact aware of what was happening in SRC? Nobody made a counter-check whether this character (Jho Low) was really SRC's representative?

Swampillai: If your question is, if nobody from BSI checked with the (former) prime minister, no.

Muhammad Shafee: You agree with me that a simple check could have prevented the transactions from going further?

Swampillai: Yes.

Swampillai was testifying as the first witness in SRC International Sdn Bhd's US$1.18 billion lawsuit against Najib before Justice Datuk Ahmad Fairuz Zainol Abidin.

Also named as a defendant in the suit is former SRC International chief executive officer Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil.

SRC, under its new management, filed the suit in May 2021, claiming that Najib had committed a breach of trust and power abuse, personally benefited from the company's funds, and misappropriated the said funds.

The company is seeking general, exemplary and additional damages, as well as interest, costs and other appropriate relief provided by the court.

It is also seeking a court declaration that Najib is responsible for the company's losses due to his breach of duties and trust and that they demand for Najib to pay back the RM42 million in losses that they have suffered.

Najib, 70, has been serving a jail sentence at the Kajang Prison since Aug 23, 2022, after being convicted of misappropriating RM42 million in SRC International funds.

After he filed a petition for a royal pardon on Sept 2, 2022, Najib's prison sentence was reduced from 12 years to six years and the fine was cut to RM50 million from RM210 million.

The hearing continues on Monday (March 11).– BERNAMA

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