Jho Low personally called when Najib faced credit card woes in Hawaii, court told

Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin

Former AmBank relationship manager Joanna Yu Ging Ping is seen at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex July 22, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, July 22 — Former AmBank account relationship manager Joanna Yu Ging Ping told the High Court today that she would be contacted personally by Low Taek Jho on behalf of Datuk Seri Najib Razak when the then prime minister’s credit card purchases in Hawaii failed in December 2014.

Yu, who was at that time the relationship manager of Najib’s accounts with AmBank, testified that the fugitive financier contacted her on Blackberry Messenger (BBM) on December 23, 2014 and that their chats included messages that were forwarded from a person that signed off with the initials “MNR”.

“I received a message from Jho saying the Visa platinum credit card was not going through, and the message included instructions to call AmBank and their credit card department, then signed off with MNR.

“I said I will check, and checked with the credit card department, as he asked me to check on it as soon as possible.

“Jho said he was in Hawaii and wanted to charge over US$100,000,” she testified, under the questioning from Datuk V. Sithambaram representing the prosecution at Najib’s criminal trial over RM42 million wrongfully taken from SRC International Sdn Bhd.

Yu agreed with Sithambaran’s suggestion that the “MNR” initials on the BBM chat logs could refer to “Mohd Najib Razak”.

The prosecution witness added that she and Low would go back-and-forth over the phone until the transactions were resolved.

Yu said she told Low that the credit card department was on standby to clear the transactions, when he asked if purchases upwards of US$100,000 would be approved.

She said she assured Low that it would as be “fine”.

“But I said it would be fine, because as I remember, his card limit is RM3 million I think,” she said of Najib’s credit card limit.

She testified that she later sent Low a message saying the purchase was cleared.

Previously, the 47th prosecution witness, AmBank’s senior vice-president Yeoh Eng Leong told the court that an Ambank Visa Platinum card was used on December 22, 2014 at the Chanel outlet in Honolulu, US for US$130,625, equivalent to RM466,330.11 using currency exchange rates then.

Yu is the prosecution’s 54th witness in Najib’s RM42 million SRC International Sdn Bhd corruption trial before High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.

Yu had testified that Najib was issued two credit cards, a Platinum Mastercard and Platinum Visa, when the former prime minister opened three current accounts with AmBank back in July 2013.

She said the cards, the Visa bearing the numbers 4585818000005496, and the Mastercard (5289438000038961), were given to Najib around August of that year, adding the accumulative credit limit set for both cards was RM3 million.

Yu also added how the unsettled bills from the credit cards had caused instructions to close the personal bank accounts of Najib in 2015 to be stalled.

She had explained how the credit card bills would be settled via auto debit sourced from Najib’s personal account, saying the last payment due was not settled on time, leading the related bank department to stall the account closure.

Sithambaram: Why was the last payment (for the credit cards) not made with auto debit?

Yu: I believe it was because when we received instructions to close accounts and cancel card, I believe they close the account before they did the auto debit (payment), so the credit card department said they could not auto debit the outstanding balance. Which means the account cannot be closed, and I was told to inform the account holder the account cannot be closed until payments were made. 

Najib, who is also Pekan MP, is currently on trial for alleged abuse of position, money-laundering and criminal breach of trust over RM42 million of funds from SRC International, a former subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The trial before High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali resumes tomorrow.

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