By Badlisyah Abdul Ghani
I have finalized my own analysis.
In my attempt to evaluate the veracity of the accusations made against Prime Minister Najib based on the documents shared online (at http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/documents/info-MALPROBE070715b.html) by WSJ and Sarawak Report (who had said they have sighted similar documents as WSJ), I posed the following three simple and straightforward questions:
Firstly, where is the substantive documentary evidence that confirms the account numbers depicted in the documents actually belongs to the Prime Minister?
The elementary diagram included by them explaining how the fund flowed is not relevant as it is clearly created by somebody else and it goes without saying that it is not a formal bank document. Any Tom, Dick and Harry could have drawn the diagram. This makes it an unreliable evidence. Moreover, the letter supposedly issued by someone by the name depicted under the signature did not refer to the Prime Minister in any way whatsoever. For all we know he was referring to somebody else altogether. This creates a very strong reasonable doubt.
All in all, the documents lack clarity. This makes it difficult to conclude that the documentary “evidence” shared is strong or good enough to be relied upon for an accusation to be leveled against the Prime Minister in the first instance.
I hope WSJ can shed more light on this seemingly inaccurate and incomplete picture. How could they make the accusation with so called banking documents that never had Prime Minister Najib’s name reflected anywhere?
Secondly, why is the address of Wells Fargo Bank N.A. (New York International Branch) stated in the SWIFT message is very different from its actual address? It is stated in the SWIFT message that the address is 375 Park Avenue, NY 4080, NEW York, NY, US.
When I searched online for the address of Wells Fargo Bank N.A. (New York International Branch), I found it to be 11 Penn Plaza, 4th Floor, New York, New York 10001. See http://www.banklocationslist.com/wells-fargo-bank/new-york-ny/branch.24723.html
So what is located at 375 Park Avenue? My first search led me to Wells Fargo Advisor, which is a non-bank affiliates of Wells Fargo & Company. See https://home.wellsfargoadvisors.com/001_PNZ2. The actual address is 375 PARK AVENUE, 10TH FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10152.
Nonetheless, I was not happy with this as there could still be a Wells Fargo bank branch in that same location as Wells Fargo Advisor so I searched online specifically for Wells Fargo Bank N.A. using the same address and upon further checking I found out that there is also another Wells Fargo Bank N.A. (New York International Branch) at this same actual address, thus making the WSJ document seemingly authentic enough to those who does not scrutinize the document thoroughly.
However, the actual address online for this bank is still very markedly and visibly different from what is stated in the document shared by WSJ. http://www.swift-code.com/m/united-states/swift-code-pnbpus3nnyc.html.
The real address is 375 PARK AVENUE, 10TH FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10152. Please note post-code is very different – 10152 vs. 4080 and also how the address is written in the shared document by WSJ is quite wrong as follows 375 Park Avenue, NY 4080, NEW York, NY, US. (ie. the post-code put in the middle of the address).
This is typically one way how one could check the authenticity of a SWIFT message. The tell tale sign includes wrong name of bank and/or wrong address. Frauders will always make at minimum a slightly different name or address so that people would miss it upon first scrutiny. How could WSJ rely on documents that have such an apparent discrepancy found in the document to the information found at Wells Fargo website?
Thirdly, which is one of the most important question – why is the SWIFT Code used in the WSJ shared document is different?
The best and most straight forward way to check whether a SWIFT document is authentic is to check the SWIFT Code of the bank used in the document. If it is wrong then the whole thing is a fraud. This can also be done online through the relevant official website.
The SWIFT Code of Wells Fargo Bank N.A. (New York International Branch) located at 375 Park Avenue, NY 4080, NEW York, NY, US that is depicted on the shared SWIFT document is PNBPUS3NANYC. However, the actual SWIFT Code of Code of Wells Fargo Bank N.A. (New York International Branch) located at 375 PARK AVENUE, 10TH FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10152 is actually PNBPUS3NNYC. See http://www.swift-code.com/m/united-states/swift-code-pnbpus3nnyc.html
The SWIFT Code PNBPUS3NANYC belongs to Alfa-Bank Moscow. This is not just a tell tale sign that the document is an absolute hoax but a very firm confirmation that the document is a hoax or a fraud. How could SWJ missed this factual error?
Three simple questions is enough to prove the documents shared cannot be relied upon as basis for the accusations against Prime Minister Najib. Anyone making and reaffirming the accusations based on the shared documents without asking these questions would unfortunately be seen as doing something frivolous, vexatious as well as totally and absolutely irresponsible.
Fraud using SWIFT message is real and it is shocking that WSJ fell for it. And it is even more unfortunate that some Malaysians also fell for it by relying on WSJ’s good reputation. I hope WSJ will do its own checking base on the three simple questions here and if the result is similar to what I have shared here then they must withdraw their accusations and apologize to Prime Minister Najib.
Badlisyah Abdul Ghani adds:
I originally thought the SWIFT Code PNBPUS3NANYC belongs to Alfa-Bank Moscow but I got this wrong. Upon further checking, this SWIFT Code belongs to Wachovia Bank NY International Branch, New York located at 4th Floor, 11 Penn Plaza, New York 10001 USA. This bank actually changed its name to Wells Fargo Bank N.A. (New York International Branch) after 2008 following the merger between Wachovia with Wells Fargo.
This final finding ties up all lose end. To sum it up, there are actually two Wells Fargo Bank N.A. (New York International Bank) located at two different addresses in New York. One at 4th Floor, 11 Penn Plaza, New York 10001 USA (with SWIFT Code PNBPUS3NANY) and the other at 375 PARK AVENUE, 10TH FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10152 (with SWIFT Code PNBPUS3NNY).
The fact that the documents shared by WSJ erroneously depicts the SWIFT Code PNBPUR3NANY as belonging to Wells Fargo Bank N.A. (New York International Branch) located at 375 Park Avenue, NY 4080, NEW York, NY, US is not just a tell tale sign that the document is an absolute hoax but a very firm confirmation that the document is a hoax or a fraud. How could WSJ missed this factual error?