Resigning as anti-graft chief, Latheefa says ‘business as usual’ for MACC

Latheefa Koya with Muhyiddin Yassin during their meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday.

KUALA LUMPUR: Latheefa Koya has resigned as chief commissioner of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (MACC), the second senior official appointed under Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s administration to quit their post following the change of government last week.

The decision was conveyed in a letter to Muhyiddin Yassin on March 2 – just a day after he was sworn in as the eighth prime minister – followed by a meeting with Muhyiddin yesterday.

“It is business as usual at MACC, in the capable hands of my officers,” she said.

She also rejected as baseless speculation that her resignation was due to pressure.

“It was my own decision to do so,” she said, adding that her resignation is subject to approval by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

The 47-year-old lawyer also said she planned to return to her practice as a human rights advocate.

Describing her meeting with Muhyiddin as cordial, Latheefa said he “understands my position”.

“I also briefed the prime minister about our ongoing actions and efforts for the recovery of stolen 1MDB monies from abroad. He was fully supportive of these actions,” she said.

“I also took the opportunity to wish him and the new government every success in advancing the welfare and best interests of the people.”

Her resignation comes almost a week after Tommy Thomas stepped down as the attorney-general. Thomas later told FMT that he was duty-bound to give up the post as he was appointed by Mahathir.

“It was also important for me to step aside and allow the incoming prime minister to appoint his own AG,” he had said.

Latheefa, who was active with PKR before the May 2018 general election, was named to replace Mohd Shukri Abdull in leading MACC on June 4 last year, becoming the first person outside the civil service to helm the anti-graft commission.

Her appointment was met with mixed response, with some criticising it as a political appointment as it did not go through Parliament.

Her nine-month tenure saw MACC pursuing those who received funds linked to 1MDB, with dozens of individuals and entities slapped with forfeiture suits for the return of the money.

On Jan 8, MACC released nine audio clips featuring former prime minister Najib Razak, his wife Rosmah Mansor, ex-MACC chief Dzulkifli Ahmad as well as UAE crown prince Sheikh Mohammed Zayed Al Nahyan, in discussions over dealings linked to 1MDB and SRC International. Police have since launched an investigation into the contents of the conversations.

Yesterday, she told Najib’s corruption trial how MACC had received the audio clips, as the defence team sought to admit the audio recordings to support their case.

Latheefa said she was confident that MACC would “continue to be uncompromising and tireless in the fight against corruption, irrespective of the position or political allegiance of the perpetrators”.

“I thank the former prime minister Dr Mahathir, my colleagues in MACC and the rakyat for all the support I have received during my tenure as chief commissioner.”