KUALA LUMPUR: Najib Razak sacked Abdul Gani Patail as attorney-general in 2015 after he lost trust in his chief legal adviser, the former top civil servant who served the previous government told the High Court today.
Ali Hamsa, the former chief secretary to the government, also told Najib’s trial on the tampering of the 1MDB audit report that then-deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin was sacked because he raised questions on 1MDB.
Ali, the fourth prosecution witness, was asked to narrate the turn of events during the fateful month of July 2015, following reports of 1MDB funds found in Najib’s private bank accounts.
Meanwhile, Ali said former Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief Abu Kassim Mohammad wanted to take leave in August 2016 due to a prolonged backache.
Gani was leading a special task force to investigate billions of ringgit allegedly linked to 1MDB funds in Najib’s private accounts, following exposes by Sarawak Report and The Wall Street Journal in July 2015.
Others in the task force were former Bank Negara Malaysia governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz and then-police chief Khalid Abu Bakar.
The task force was disbanded following Gani’s sacking.
When asked by Sri Ram why Gani was forced to vacate his office, Ali said: “Loss of trust.”
When asked who had not trusted Gani, Ali replied: “Datuk Seri Najib.”
He added that he had personally handed Gani the termination letter which was prepared by then-Cabinet secretary Mazidah Abdul Hamid and approved by the king.
“Najib asked me to hand over the letter to Gani. The prime minister also asked Gani to vacate the office without taking any documents,” he said.
On Muhyiddin, Ali said Najib had lost confidence in him as he had raised questions about 1MDB.
“Coincidentally, Gani also met Muhyiddin somewhere in a shopping centre,” said Ali, who was the top civil servant from 2012 until last year.
However, he did not provide further details.
Ali, who attended Cabinet meetings in his capacity as secretary, said Najib was calm and composed each time Muhyiddin raised 1MDB matters.
To a question by Sri Ram, he said it was the prerogative of the prime minister to remove a Cabinet member.
Ali said Abu Kassim left office about a year after Gani and Muhyiddin were sacked.
“He wanted to be placed somewhere but ended up in Universiti Teknologi Mara,” Ali said, adding that he was asked to recommend Abu Kassim’s replacement.
“I suggested one of Abu Kassim’s deputies. I know it was also the prime minister’s decision as to who assumed that position,” he said.
Najib eventually appointed Dzulkifli Ahmad, the director of the National Revenue Recovery Enforcement Team, as MACC chief.
Najib is accused of using his position to obtain immunity from legal action in relation to allegations that he tampered with the 1MDB audit report between Feb 22 and 26, 2016.
Former 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy is charged with abetting Najib in tampering with the report before it was tabled to the Public Accounts Committee.
The hearing continues before trial judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan.