Sunday 14 Jul 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 14): Former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz reiterated again to the High Court that she “absolutely” did not have any knowledge about her husband’s bank account in Singapore which received funds from fugitive financier Low Taek Jho or Jho Low.

Zeti, who is testifying as the prosecution's 46th witness in former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia Development Bhd-Tanore (1MDB-Tanore) trial, was under cross-examination by Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who referred her to an article by The Edge Malaysia published online on March 8, 2021 entitled: How much did Zeti know about husband’s bank account in Singapore?.

Despite the headline, Zeti repeated that she had “absolutely no knowledge at all” about these transactions in her husband Datuk Tawfiq Ayman’s Singapore account.

Shafee then read excerpts from the article, which outlined the transactions and how the money came into Tawfiq’s account. He then asked Zeti:

Shafee: How much do you know? This article says you have to know a lot because of what transpired.

Zeti: That is not correct, as I mentioned before, the monies were placed into the account [of Tawfiq], and when it was suspected that it was from irregular sources, it was reported to the financial institution (from where the money came from) and should be forwarded to investors, failing which it should be forwarded to the authorities in the jurisdiction.

Just then, judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah intervened to remind Shafee that he had asked her about this before.

Shafee then suggested that she knew about the transactions.

Shafee:  I'm putting it to you — I’m very much in agreement with The Edge Malaysia, and it is not often I’m in agreement with them — I put it to you that you know about these transactions from your family (as stated in the article).

Zeti: I absolutely have no knowledge, I absolutely have no knowledge at all. You can ask me till I'm blue in the face. I will answer that I don't know about these transactions.

In the article, The Edge Malaysia reported, citing documents and correspondences it sighted, that the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) of the Singapore Police Force had, in 2015 and 2016, shared information with Bank Negara Malaysia about suspicious transactions involving Iron Rhapsody Ltd, which had a bank account at UBS in Singapore. Tawfiq and a son of the couple are beneficial owners of Iron Rhapsody, according to CAD. At the time, the publication had reached out to the central bank on the matter, which replied that it could not respond as it was bound by international protocol for the sharing of financial intelligence.

The publication also reported that documents shared by Singapore’s CAD with Malaysian investigators had shown that Iron Rhapsody received a total of US$16.22 million (RM74.8 million) from companies/bank accounts of Jho Low.

The exchange between Shafee and Zeti became more tense, as she asked Shafee to show her the transactions where the money which had come into her husband's account was used.

“Show me the outflow of money from these accounts. The transactions show that there was inflow of funds, but no outflow.

"When it was suspected that it (the inflow of money) was from irregular sources, it was reported to the financial institution (from where the money came from),” she said.

During cross-examination earlier, she told the court that her husband had himself alerted Singaporean authorities via a letter about the US$15.4 million (RM71 million) of funds linked to 1MDB that were held by the firm.

Shafee asked her if she was aware of the “discomfort of Singaporean authorities” and their findings, namely that Tawfiq and her two sons received this money in Singapore.

Zeti said she knew about the asset management company, and that it received money from various investors, but was not aware of anything beyond that.

She also said no enforcement agencies ever confronted her about these funds, and that she did not know there was an inquiry by the Singaporean authorities into the matter, and that no action was ever taken against any members of her family in that jurisdiction. 

Najib is on trial on four counts of abuse of power and 21 counts of money laundering involving RM2.28 billion of 1MDB funds.

The trial before Sequerah continues.

The Edge is covering the trial live here.

Users of The Edge Markets app may tap here to access the live report.

Edited ByTan Choe Choe
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