Ex-MACC chief had ‘secret meeting’ with US over 1MDB, says Fairfax CEO

Former MACC chief Abu Kassim Mohamed apparently wanted US Attorney’s Office to continue probing 1MDB.

PETALING JAYA: The CEO of a corporate risk management firm said that former Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Abu Kassim Mohamed had sought a meeting with the US Attorney’s Office in New York to pass them investigation documents on the 1MDB scandal after he resigned in 2016.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera yesterday, Fairfax Group chief Michael Hershman said that Abu Kassim, who was apparently asked to resign after MACC started investigating former prime minister Najib Razak for his involvement in the 1MDB scandal, approached him for help in 2015 to set up a meeting with US authorities so that the beleaguered state investment fund would continue to be investigated.

“Abu Kassim, who I have known for many years – he and I served together on an Interpol anti-corruption commission – asked if I would pass on documents to the US Attorney’s Office in New York and arrange a secret meeting with them so he could be assured that an entity outside of Malaysia would continue this investigation,” Hershman told Al-Jazeera.

“I did provide that information and I did set up that meeting.

“Unfortunately, as a result of that meeting, he was faced with charges of treason for assisting a foreign prosecution authority into its investigation into the 1MBD scandal,” Hershman claimed.

However, Abu Kassim, who was replaced as MACC chief by Dzulkifli Ahmad on Aug 1, 2016, was not charged with treason.

Hershman was interviewed by Al-Jazeera on the audio recordings which MACC released on Wednesday of Najib’s telephone conversations on the 1MDB scandal.

According to Hershman, Abu Kassim was forced to resign from his post after informing the Attorney-General (Abdul Gani Patail) that MACC was investigating Najib’s involvement in the 1MDB mismanagement.

“In 2015, Abu Kassim went to the attorney-general and told him that the prime minister was a target of their investigation,” said Hershman.

“When the attorney-general confronted the (then) prime minister and told him he was under criminal investigation, he was forced out of office and replaced by a friend of Najib’s.

“At the same time, Abu Kassim was placed under surveillance and was asked to resign from office…,” he claimed.

Abu Kassim, however, had previously said that he was not pressured to resign from his post and stressed that he was stepping down of his own volition.

Among the nine audio recordings MACC released on Wednesday were conversations allegedly between Najib and several officials in discussions over dealings linked to 1MDB and SRC International.

The clips purportedly featured Najib, his wife Rosmah Mansor, ex-MACC chief Dzulkifli Ahmad as well as the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed Zayed Al Nahyan.

Calling the recordings “extraordinary”, Hershman said 1MDB had been one of the “worst cover-up situations I have run into”.

“No one expected to uncover these sort of taped conversations between the highest government officials in two jurisdictions,” he said.

“We don’t know who made them, whether it’s intelligence services or a source from the UAE, but regardless of the admissibility, this cover-up is a model of what not to do,” he said.