Zeti tells court she was asked to issue statement clearing Najib's name

27 Jul 2023 07:47pm
Former BNM Governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz (right) at the Kuala Lumpur High Court to testify in Datuk Seri Najib Razak's 1MDB trial, today. - Photo by Bernama
Former BNM Governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz (right) at the Kuala Lumpur High Court to testify in Datuk Seri Najib Razak's 1MDB trial, today. - Photo by Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR - Former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz told the High Court today that Datuk Seri Najib Razak had asked her to clear his name over the RM2.6 billion in his personal bank account.

However, Zeti said she refused to obey the former prime minister's request as she had no knowledge about the latter's bank account.

"I was called to the Prime Minister's Office. He (Najib) made a request for me to issue a statement that he had done nothing wrong in his account.

"I informed him that I cannot issue such a statement because I did not have knowledge of the transactions that had occurred in his account. He accepted this decision by me,” said the 46th prosecution witness at Najib’s trial involving the misappropriation of RM2.3 billion from 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s (1MDB) funds.

She said soon after the meeting, she received a call from a Cabinet Minister who made the same request for her to issue such a statement, to which she gave the same answer.

Zeti, 76, who was BNM governor for 16 years from the year 2000, told the court that she had no knowledge of the RM2.6 billion remitted into Najib’s personal bank account at the material time.

"Regarding the allegations made by Najib during his interview with Malaysiakini that was published on July 2, 2018, in which he claimed that I was aware of the RM2.6 billion in his account at AmIslamic Bank Berhad and that I did not raise any questions about it...

"I wish to unequivocally state that I had no knowledge of the transactions that were undertaken in his account at that material time,” she said.

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Zeti explained that all account holders in the financial system are protected by the banking secrecy provisions in the legislation, thus, no one can have access to any account unless the financial institution concerned detects suspicious activities in the account and reports it to the central bank.

She said the claim made by Najib is false as at the material time, she had no knowledge that the sum of RM2.6 billion had been remitted into his account and that the funds were monies that belonged to 1MDB.

Zeti, who served the central bank for 35 years, said the main concern at that time was that AmBank did not report to BNM the more than 500 transactions relating to the account that were suspicious or irregular as required under Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).

"Following the investigations, AmBank acknowledged these non-disclosures, (of) false reporting and its failure in compliance with the prudential regulations.

"AmBank paid the highest penalty ever in our history amounting to RM59 million and was also required to set aside a minimum of RM100 million for remedial action to strengthen its internal systems for Anti-Money Laundering/Countering Financing of Terrorism compliance," she added.

Meanwhile, when asked by deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib, Zeti told the court that no one in her family ever had taken 1MDB money.

Ahmad Akram: From all these transactions, did you or your family members receive any benefits from 1MDB?

Zeti: No one from my family received or had taken 1MDB’s money, even a single cent.

Najib, 70, faces four charges of using his position to obtain bribes amounting to RM2.3 billion belonging to 1MDB and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.

The trial before Judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues Aug 14. - BERNAMA