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1MDB trial: MACC investigator says Switzerland, Barbados, HK didn’t cooperate over bank employees’ interviews

Publish date: Mon, 26 Feb 2024, 06:34 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 — Countries like Switzerland and Barbados did not provide cooperation in making available employees in banks involved in transactions in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) for interview by Malaysia’s investigators, and instead only provided photocopied versions of documents, the High Court heard today.

MACC Senior Superintendent Nur Aida Arifin, the 49th prosecution witness in Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s trial over the misappropriation of RM2.27 billion of 1MDB’s funds, confirmed that all the documents she received from Singapore, Barbados, Switzerland and Hong Kong via mutual legal assistance were all photocopied versions.

Under cross-examination by Najib’s lead defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Nur Aida agreed that the admissibility of these photocopied documents would be affected if the certificate of authentication for such documents are not acceptable and agreed that such certificates is to determine that documents were photocopies of the original document.

Nur Aida agreed she herself cannot determine if the contents of these documents — obtained from abroad for the 1MDB investigation — were correct, and she only had the certificate of authentication to rely on.

Asked by Shafee if she had tried to obtain written statements as an investigating officer from any witnesses who issued such documents from the overseas-based banks, Nur Aida said cooperation was not provided.

“We did apply to obtain testimony from these bank staff, but did not get cooperation from those countries,” she said, listing the countries where she had made the application for statements from bank staff from the countries and locations where she had applied for mutual legal assistance, namely Switzerland, Singapore, Barbados, Hong Kong and the Netherlands.

But when asked if these countries did not allow her to record the statements of bank employees, Nur Aida said: “I did not get the answer ‘not allowed’, but I did not get any statements from banks.” Nur Aida confirmed she did not receive any response to her requests to interview overseas bank employees.

Nur Aida said however that there were exceptions to the lack of cooperation by the other countries, citing former BSI Singapore banker Kevin Michael Swampillai who gave his statement and his former BSI Singapore bank colleague Yak Yew Chee.

Nur Aida said the feedback she received from Singapore was that Yak did not wish to give his testimony here. She said Singapore authorities had said Yak is not in Singapore, but also said she does not know where he is.

According to Nur Aida, the applications she had made for the recording of written statements from bank employees were made on August 23, 2018 for both Singapore and Switzerland, and on March 6, 2019 to Barbados and on January 22, 2019 to Hong Kong.

She explained these dates are the dates when the attorney-general signed the applications for mutual legal assistance to be sent to other countries, noting that such MLA requests were to seek for both documents and witness statements. She said she did not know when the attorney general sent these requests to countries abroad.

Najib’s 1MDB trial before trial judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah resumes tomorrow.

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