Be patient, public told over ‘slow’ 1MDB probe

Reuters pic

PETALING JAYA: A source familiar with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigation into troubled state fund 1MDB has called for patience from the public over the probe as the anti-graft officers need more time to collect evidence overseas.

The source said MACC officers had just returned from the US and Singapore, and now needed to travel to other foreign jurisdictions to record statements from potential witnesses.

This was because 1MDB-related funds had been transferred to a number of financial institutions, it said.

“The public must be patient with the MACC investigation as the attorney-general (AG) only issued the mutual legal assistance (MLA) two months ago,” it added.

The source was responding to allegations, especially by Umno leaders, that MACC did not have enough evidence to frame charges against former prime minister Najib Razak.

Najib was charged on July 4 with three counts of criminal breach of trust and one of abuse of power, which carry a 20-year jail term and a fine each upon conviction.

Last week, he also claimed trial to three other charges of money laundering in the transfer of RM42 million from SRC International into his bank account.

The energy company was originally a subsidiary of 1MDB but was later placed under the Minister of Finance Inc.

If convicted under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act, Najib will face a maximum of 15 years in jail and a fine.

The source told FMT that MACC’s investigation had been scuttled by the previous AG, Mohamed Apandi Ali, whom it said refused to issue the MLA. The MLA would have allowed MACC investigators to travel abroad to collect evidence from overseas financial institutions.

“After the new AG Tommy Thomas issued the MLA, we had logistics issues to handle. We have to liaise with authorities in the countries we will be going to, and this takes time,” the source added.

It said it was also doubling efforts to complete the investigation paper to be handed over to the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

On Jan 26, 2016, Apandi declared that another transaction of RM2.6 billion was a donation from the Saudi royal family. He also cleared Najib of any wrongdoing.

However, court filings by the US Department of Justice alleged that the RM2.6 billion was part of 1MDB funds.

MACC chief commissioner Mohd Shukri Abdull said last month that the 1MDB investigation was only 50% complete. He also expressed hope that it would be wrapped up as soon as possible.

“My focus is now on the current case, which involves funds of RM2.6 billion.

“Let’s pray for the case to be solved soon,” he said referring to the RM2.6 billion allegedly deposited into Najib’s personal account.