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Najib's lawyer in 1MDB trial presents letter from Saudi prince on US$100 million cash gift

He says the letter states, among others, that the prince granted Najib the US$100 million as a gift to be remitted to the former prime minister's account.

2 minute read
Former prime minister Najib Razak. Photo: Bernama
Former prime minister Najib Razak. Photo: Bernama

The defence in Najib Razak’s RM2.3 billion graft trial today submitted a letter from the royal family of Saudi Arabia, stating that the former prime minister had received a cash gift of US$100 million in recognition of his contributions to the Islamic world.

The letter, bearing the letterhead of the Private Office of Saud Abdulaziz Majid Al Saud, a former governor of Madinah province and a member of House of Saud, said the gift was in view of the friendship that the two had developed over the years as well as in appreciation of Najib’s new ideas as a modern Islamic leader.

Najib’s counsel Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed, when reading out the letter signed by the prince on Feb 1, 2011, said the letter stated among others that the prince had granted Najib US$100 million as a gift to be remitted to Najib’s account. 

"The letter also stated that Najib should have absolute discretion to determine how the gift should be utilised to promote Islam so that it continues to flourish. The prince added that he did not expect to receive any personal benefit whether directly or indirectly as a result of the gift," said the lawyer.

Wan Aizuddin was questioning the 37th prosecution witness, AmBank (M) Bhd Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager R Uma Devi, about the letter during cross-examination, while referring her to two documents regarding 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 (I am) also not sure whether the letter was given to the bank prior to these transactions. 

Wan Aizuddin: From the branch's side, this letter had never been cited?

Uma Devi: Yes.

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, as no red flag was triggered by the bank when the transactions took place.
She said there were several trigger points which the bank would look for, such as the amount transferred, the purpose, and disclosure of information from the customer.
"Screening is done based on these trigger points. The customer will not be informed (of  a red flag) as this would alert them," she said, adding that the customer would not be alerted to enable the bank to conduct its investigations when the red flag was raised.

Najib, 69, faces 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 Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues.