KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) attempt to obtain privileged documents from a legal firm involved in the settlement between the government and Goldman Sachs over the US$6.5 billion 1MDB bond issuance scandal is an abuse of court process, says a partner of the legal firm.
Lawyer Rosli Dahlan said the true motive behind the anti-graft agency’s attempt remained a matter of speculation.
“It could potentially be an attempt to embark on a fishing expedition, or perhaps something even more sinister,” the lawyer from Rosli Dahlan Saravana Partnership (RDS) said in his affidavit, in reply to MACC’s application.
Rosli said he was fully aware of his responsibilities and duties to his clients.
“It is crucial to emphasise that the authorities were the ultimate decision-makers in determining the acceptable amount from Goldman Sachs,” he said in calling for the MACC’s application to be dismissed with costs.
Rosli said there was no need for the MACC to go to court as RDS had written twice to 1MDB for consent to release the privileged documents to the anti-graft agency.
“This application is actuated with malice,” he added.
Two weeks ago, the MACC filed a suit to compel lawyers Rosli and Chetan Jethwani, and their respective legal firms, to hand over several documents from the settlement agreed between Goldman Sachs and the government over the US$6.5 billion 1MDB bond issuance.
MACC said both lawyers refused to allow its officers to conduct a search and seizure of the documents under Section 31(1) of the MACC Act when visits were made on Oct 6.
It said the lawyers had refused to hand over the documents, claiming they were privileged communication between client and solicitor.
The lawyers also claimed that MACC must obtain a High Court order under Section 46(2) of the MACC Act, read together with Section 126(1) of the Evidence Act, to compel disclosure.
However, MACC denies the applicability of the provisions in the circumstances of the case.
In separate affidavits to support each application, MACC officer Sabri Latif said RDS was appointed legal adviser to 1MDB and was involved in negotiations that led to the settlement agreement inked with Goldman Sachs on Aug 18, 2020.
He also said Chetan & Co were the solicitors for Goldman Sachs.
RDS senior partner DP Naban also submitted an affidavit on behalf of the firm, that it had written to its former client, 1MDB, seeking permission to disclose privileged documents to the MACC.
The firm said media outlets, citing sources close to the MACC investigation, had claimed that the settlement was a bad deal for Malaysia and that RDS was involved in bribery, which had compromised Malaysia’s position.
However, the firm called those allegations “false and groundless”.
It said settlement negotiations were conducted by the 1MDB task force, which was led at the time by the then finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz and included representatives of the Attorney-General’s Chambers, finance ministry, MACC, Securities Commission and the National Anti-Financial Crime Centre.