1MDB trial: Najib’s ex-aide says didn’t know US$200k deposit needed Bank Negara clearance

Ida Lim

Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin leaves the courtroom during a break in the 1MDB trial at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex September 18, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s former aide today testified that he did not know Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) approval was needed for a transfer of US$200,000 (RM600,200) in 2011 into his local bank account from businessman Low Taek Jho.

Najib’s former special officer Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin confirmed that US$200,000 (equivalent to RM600,200 then) was transferred into his Maybank account on April 5, 2011 from Alsen Chance Ltd, which he guessed could be Jho Low’s company.

Amhari confirmed that Maybank had contacted him via phone to ask about the telegraphic transfer of US$200,000, which he said he had explained it was a bridging loan to pay for his existing housing loan then.

Najib’s lead defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah then asked if Amhari was aware that he would need to get clearance from BNM when receiving foreign currency, and if he was aware that failure to get such clearance is an offence.

Amhari said he was not aware despite having worked at BNM, arguing that the central bank was a big organisation and that he was working in its economics department.

Shafee argued that currency exchange controls would mean BNM’s permission is required when money from overseas is brought into the country.

But Amhari replied: “I don’t know and the Maybank officer would have alerted me if there was something wrong. So everything was ok, there were no calls after that, so I understood it’s ok, it’s good.”

“My point is when the money came in, there was queries, there wasn’t any further queries for information or questions being asked and that was it, so I thought all was good,” Amhari added.

When pressed by Shafee on the need to get central bank’s clearance as foreign currency was involved, Amhari said he did not even know where the money came from.

When pointed out that the deposit was in US currency, Amhari argued that the money could still be from Malaysia.

Amhari is the eighth prosecution witness in Najib’s ongoing 1MDB trial involving 25 criminal charges: four counts of abusing his position for his own financial benefit totalling almost RM2.3 billion allegedly originating from 1MDB and the resulting 21 counts of money-laundering.

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