Ex-aide says never informed Najib about opening foreign bank accounts

(FMT) – A former aide of Najib Razak told the High Court here today he never informed the ex-prime minister that he and another colleague had travelled overseas in order to open foreign bank accounts.

Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin said he had understood that the instructions given to him and Najib’s principle private secretary Azlin Alias to open accounts at BSI Bank in Singapore had the former prime minister’s blessing.

Azlin was Najib’s principle private secretary until he died in 2015.

Amhari also said that businessman Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, had told them to open the accounts in 2012, “just in case”.

Najib’s lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, asked Amhari if he had sought clarification with Najib of Jho Low’s orders to open the accounts.

“I was with Azlin at the time, and I followed his lead,” Amhari replied.

“I was only a junior officer at the Prime Minister’s Department at the time.”

Amhari previously told the court he was shocked to learn that US$800,000 was deposited into the BSI Bank account without his knowledge.

He said BSI Bank in Switzerland had told him he would need to transfer the money out from BSI, and that Jho Low later told him to open another account at Kasikorn Bank in Bangkok.

He said today that he had not informed Bank Negara Malaysia of the plan to open the BSI Bank account in Singapore.

“I am not sure if Azlin informed the central bank of it,” he added.

When asked by Shafee whether the money was still at Kasikorn Bank, Amhari said BSI Bank had withheld the US$800,000.

“An officer told me on the phone that the money was temporarily blocked, and that they could not follow my instructions to transfer the money to the Thai bank.”

He added that he had received no notice from the authorities to freeze the account at BSI Bank Singapore.

Amhari said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission had questioned him about the Singapore account after detaining him last year.

“They told me it was the subject of an investigation under the Financial Services Act,” he said.

Najib is facing 25 charges of money laundering and abuse of power over alleged 1MDB funds amounting to RM2.28 billion deposited in his AmBank accounts between February 2011 and December 2014.

The hearing continues before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.