Deutsche Bank pressed to speed up 1MDB’s US $ 1b money transfer, as PM Najib would be issuing press statement, ex-banker tells court

KUALA LUMPUR, June 21 – The Finance Ministry-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) had cited then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak when urging the Deutsche Bank to help the company quickly transfer out US $ 1 billion to two overseas accounts in September 2009, and had even given a specific time of wanting it to be done before 4pm on that day, the High Court heard today.

Jacqueline Ho, former managing director (head of global markets corporate sales) of Deutsche Bank (M) Berhad, received this while testing as the 30th Prosecution witness in Najib’s trial over the misappropriation of more than RM2 billion of 1MDB funds.

She said 1MDB had on September 29, 2009 provided Deutsche Bank with two documents, including Bank Negara Malaysia’s September 29 written approval to 1MDB to transfer out US $ 1 billion of the company’s funds to 1MDB-PetroSaudi’s BSI bank account for the purpose of acquiring a 40 per cent share in the purported joint venture firm of 1MDB PetroSaudi Limited in the British Virgin Islands.

The other document was a September 26, 2009 1MDB board meeting minutes where the directors approved then 1MDB executive director Casey Tang as the authorized officer to approve and execute the US $ 1 billion transaction.

However, on the morning of September 30, 1MDB officials informed Deutsche Bank to transfer out the US $ 1 billion of 1MDB funds to two bank accounts instead.

Ho today spoke of multiple efforts and steps taken by Deutsche Bank to check on the Sudden change in instructions for the US $ 1 billion before it made the transfers, including obtaining confirmation that Bank Negara Malaysia had approved this change.

Ho said Tang had asked Deutsche Bank to carry out the US $ 1 billion transfer as soon as possible as it was allegedly a government-to-government transaction.

“Later, Casey Tang continued to constantly press upon DBMB again, that DBMB needed to speed up the money transfer process as the then Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, wanted to make a press statement on the 1MDB joint venture project with PetroSaudi International Ltd. As such, we were urged to Accelerate the US $ 1billion remittance process into those two accounts, ”she said today.

Najib’s lawyer Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed objected to this part of Ho’s testimony on Najib’s press statement as allegedly being hearsay, but went on to ask how this had happened.

Ho said Tang had come to Deutsche Bank’s office – which is in the same building as 1MDB’s office – and made the request to quickly carry out the transaction.

“They got you all process this transaction quickly, we are going to sit here and wait and give us the confirmation, can you do it before four, because the press statement by prime minister, he’s going to announce it, we need the transaction to be done before that, ”she said.

Aizuddin: This purported representation by Casey motivated you to undertake this transaction as soon as you can?

Ho: I don’t think – I guess yes and no. In the sense we would have done it on that day anyway, it would go through a queue, for US $ transactions we would probably finish it by around five or six something in the evening, but because he wanted it done before four, I had to ask my operations to prioritize the remittance before other clients.

Aizuddin asked if Deutsche Bank would have delayed the US $ 1 billion transaction until the next date or if her conduct would have been different from the normal process if Tang had not mentioned the prime minister wanting to make the press statement.

Ho then said Deutsche Bank would certainly not have delayed it to the next day, as the client 1MDB via its Officer Tang had “given very strict instructions to send it out on 30th” September and that there was no way the bank would have delayed it .

Asked if she knew how Najib fit into the entire 1MDB matter then, Ho said: “At that point of time, we were told this is an important G2G (government-to-government) transaction, the bank was under the impression that 1MDB would be like Khazanah Nasional in the sense it would be a government investment vehicle.

“So from that point, obviously since it is owned by the Ministry of Finance and Datuk Seri Najib was the Minister of Finance as well, so it’s only natural that they would want to give a press statement about a large investment,” she said.

Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court June 21,2022 - Picture by Devan Manuel

Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court June 21,2022 – Picture by Devan Manuel

After the US $ 1 billion transaction was completed and the funds were sent out to the two bank accounts at around 3pm that day, Ho said she had checked and found that the press statement was indeed made at around 4pm the same day based on an online version of a news article.

She said she had passed the news article to Deutsche Bank’s compliance department in an email thread as part of the documentation on the client’s 1MDB’s representation that they have a joint venture and investment and that the public announcement about it.

In hindsight, Ho said she now knows that the US $ 1 billion transaction was for fraudulent purposes.

Asked if she now knows whether the status of the US $ 1 billion investment was a true investment as well as based on what she had read in the news about 1MDB and what authorities had hinted or told her during the 1MDB investigation, Ho said: “I guess what was hinted or implied, it was fraud essentially, yeah. ” She agreed the US $ 1 billion that was supposed to be sent to the purported joint venture firm 1MDB-PetroSaudi had instead went elsewhere.

It was only a couple of days after the US $ 1 billion was sent out that Deutsche Bank had found out that one of the accounts – which received US $ 700 million – was actually Good Star Limited, instead of PetroSaudi International as claimed by 1MDB initially on the day of the transactions. At that time, Deutsche Bank had asked 1MDB but 1MDB had claimed Good Star was a subsidiary of 1MDB’s purported joint venture partner PetroSaudi International Limited.

Aizuddin: Now I come back to this hindsight thing, so you now know for a fact that US $ 700 million was wrongly sent and Good Star is an entity owned by Low Taek Jho?

Ho: Yes, correct.

In this trial, a lawyer appeared today to hold a watching brief for Deutsche Bank.

On the first day of the trial, the Prosecution had said it would show that US24.5 million of the US $ 700 million to the Good Star had ended up with a “Prince Faisal” who had then allegedly transferred US $ 20 million (equivalent to RM60, 629,839.43) to Najib’s personal bank account in two transactions of US $ 10 million each in February 2011 and June 2011.

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