Latheefa, Shafee clash on phone-tapping by MACC

Former MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya says she was not in charge of investigations.

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Latheefa Koya told the High Court in Najib Razak’s SRC International trial she was bound by law not to disclose how anti-graft officers conduct their duties in phone tapping.

She said this when questioned repeatedly by Najib’s lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, on MACC’s procedures in tapping the phone conversations of individuals they were investigating.

Shafee wanted to know if the phone tapping was done in accordance with the law.

Latheefa was brought in as a witness after the defence team said they wanted to admit two of nine audio recordings she had revealed, to support their case.

She had held a press conference at MACC headquarters on Jan 8 where she disclosed nine audio recordings, purportedly linked to SRC International and 1MDB. The recordings allegedly featured Najib, his wife Rosmah Mansor, former deputy public prosecutor Dzulkifli Ahmad, and the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed Zayed Al Nahyan.

“I am unable to disclose names,” Latheefa said to questions on whether she knew MACC needed to produce the public prosecutor’s order so authorities could seek the help of telco providers to tap phone calls.

She said she could not confirm if the nine audio recordings were the “product of MACC’s phone tapping exercises”.

Ad hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram told the court that Shafee seemed to be on a “fishing expedition” on how MACC tapped phone conversations.

“She told the court she doesn’t known if MACC was the one who tapped the phone calls.

“She is merely exercising her rights under Section 43(5) of the MACC Act and she cannot be compelled to disclose in any court proceedings how they intercept phone calls,” he said.

High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali said Latheefa was entitled to rely on the provisions of the law and did not need to answer Shafee’s questions.

Asked whether MACC, under her tenure, made any attempts to determine if a large portion of SRC International’s RM4 billion was kept at BSI Bank in Lugano, Switzerland, Latheefa said she left it to her officers in the investigation and prosecution departments to do their work.

Former SRC International chairman Ismee Ismail had testified that he and other directors flew to Switzerland to seek confirmation that their RM1.5 billion deposit was safely kept in the bank.

“I have been called as a witness on the audio recordings. Am I being cross-examined on the investigations?” Latheefa asked.

“If you are asking about the (SRC International) charges, I am unable to assist the court as I was not in charge of investigations.”

Shafee:
Did you make any progress on the RM4 billion?

Latheefa: That I cannot say as it is part of an on-going investigation and that may compromise the investigation.

Najib is accused of abusing his power as prime minister by giving government guarantees on SRC International’s RM4 billion loan from Retirement Fund Inc.

He is also charged with three counts of money laundering and three counts of criminal breach of trust in the transfer of RM42 million to his accounts from the former 1MDB unit.

The hearing continues tomorrow.