Former group managing director of AmBank Cheah Tek Kuang arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court, October 5, 2022. – Picture by Hari Anggara
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 11 — AmBank’s former group managing director Cheah Tek Kuang today confirmed he had not seen now-fugitive Low Taek Jho — better known as Jho Low — at the house of former Bank Negara Malaysia governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz.
Cheah said this when responding to questions from former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s lead defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah during the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) trial.
Testifying as the 39th prosecution witness against Najib in the trial over the misappropriation of RM2.28 billion of 1MDB funds, Cheah confirmed to Shafee that he might have only visited Zeti’s house at an open house event during Raya celebrations.
“No, I think only once, when Hari Raya celebration, when she opened to whole of banking fraternity, but privately no,” he said, recalling the house to be in Bukit Tunku.
Shafee then asked: “Alright, now, Mr Cheah, did you see Jho Low at any time in the house?”
Cheah: No, no.
Shafee: You are sure?
Cheah: Very sure.
Shafee: I’m asking you this because I’m suggesting, because I got reliable information with some element of proof that Jho Low was a frequent visitor to Tan Sri Zeti’s house. Are you aware of this?
Cheah: I’m not aware at all.
At this point, lead prosecutor for the 1MDB trial, Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram interjected to inform the High Court that the prosecution will be having Zeti coming in as a prosecution witness to testify in court: “My Lord, we are calling Tan Sri Zeti, so these questions can be addressed to her.”
Shafee then indicated Najib’s legal team “will definitely” pose such questions to Zeti, with Sri Ram then saying: “She’s got an answer.”
Shafee then moved on to other topics in his cross-examination of Cheah.
Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram told the High Court that the prosecution will be having Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz coming in as a prosecution witness to testify in court. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Previously on October 5 when Cheah was also on the witness stand for this 1MDB trial, he had confirmed that Zeti was one of his juniors in a separate division in the faculty of business and economics at Universiti Malaya in the late 1960s, but said she was merely an acquaintance that he knew of but he did not know her well and did not mix with her.
Also on October 5, Cheah had confirmed to Shafee that all his dealings as a banker in later years with then Bank Negara Malaysia governor Zeti were “all very official”.
Lawyer Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah arrives at Kuala Lumpur High Court October 11, 2022. – Picture by Hari Anggara
Today, Shafee said there were allegations that profits made by Jho Low from the 1MDB scheme had allegedly benefited Zeti’s family and showed an article linked to such allegations, but Cheah said he was unaware.
Previously on January 5, 2021, Sri Ram asked the High Court to issue a “stern warning” to Najib over his late December 2020 Facebook posts against Zeti, pointing out that Najib should not attack prosecution witnesses who would be testifying against him in the 1MDB trial.
Citing court papers, Sri Ram had said Najib would have been aware since August 2019 that Zeti is on the list of witnesses for the 1MDB trial.
On January 7, 2021, High Court judge Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah had found that Najib’s Facebook posts amounted to an attack on the prosecution witness Zeti and said he cannot make statements as if the trial is being conducted in the public domain instead of in court, and gave him a stern warning.
On December 29, Najib had in his Facebook post challenged Zeti to respond to allegations that her family had allegedly received funds of over RM100 million — including purported funds originating from 1MDB — from Low in their bank accounts in Singapore.
On December 31, Zeti in a press statement said she and her family had never received any money from 1MDB, stressing that such allegations against them are completely false and malicious.
Besides highlighting that she had given her full cooperation to the authorities in their investigation of the 1MDB case, Zeti had also said she could not make any further statements as she was a potential witness in Najib’s ongoing criminal trial.
The trial resumes tomorrow, with Shafee expected to continue cross-examining Cheah.