KUALA LUMPUR (July 27): Former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz told the High Court in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB-Tanore) trial that in 2015, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) under Tan Sri Apandi Ali had decided against pressing charges against 1MDB and individuals involved, despite being recommended to do so by a multi-agency task force set up to investigate the fund.
Testifying as the 46th prosecution witness in Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s trial over RM2.28 billion of 1MDB funds, Zeti said that she was part of the multi-agency task force when its head and Apandi’s predecessor Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, was removed as the AG and the task force terminated on July 27, 2015.
"There were no longer any task force meetings that were convened by the new AG, Tan Sri Apandi Ali," she testified.
She added that on Aug 13, 2015, BNM submitted an investigation paper (IP) to the AGC.
The letter had recommended initiating criminal prosecution and to charge 1MDB as well as its senior officers.
"The entity and its officers were found to have contravened the provision under the Exchange Control Act 1953 (ECA) for furnishing false information to BNM in the 1MDB application for permission to make payments outside Malaysia,” she said.
She testified that BNM had recorded “damning evidence” for the task force which was recorded in an investigation paper (IP).
“Despite all the damning evidences gathered and recorded by BNM in the IP [on 1MDB] which was submitted, the then AGC, for reasons unknown, had on Sept 11, 2015, decided that the IP submitted by BNM was to be classified as "no further action"," she said.
Zeti, who was reading from her witness statement, said that on Oct 1, 2015, BNM had written to the AGC to reconsider its “no further action” decision, stressing not only on the omission of material information, but also the provision of false information by 1MDB in its application for the foreign exchange administration (FEA) permission, but received no reply.
Zeti then referred to a Malaysiakini article dated July 2, 2018 where Najib alleged that Zeti was aware of the RM2.6 billion in his accounts at AmIslamic Bank Bhd but 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.
"All account holders in our financial system are protected by the banking secrecy provisions in our legislation.
"No one can have access [...] any account unless the financial institution concerned detects suspicious activities in the account and reports it to the central bank," she said, adding that she had also issued a media statement in response to the article.
Zeti further added that on July 3, 2015, she was called into Najib’s office where he asked her to issue a statement that he had done nothing wrong with his account, which she rejected as she did not have knowledge of what transpired in his account.
She said that Najib had accepted her decision, but soon after their meeting, she received a call from one of Najib’s cabinet ministers who then made the same request for her to issue the statement absolving Najib. She did not name the minister.
“I gave him the same answer that I cannot issue any such statement because I did not have knowledge of what had transpired in his account,” she said.
“I 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,” she said before Court of Appeal judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah.
Zeti was BNM governor from 2000 to 2016, and she will continue being re-examined by the prosecution on Aug 14.
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