Malaysia’s anti-graft chief says was threatened when probing ex-PM Najib
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Malaysia’s anti-graft chief says was threatened when probing ex-PM Najib

THE newly-appointed Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief on Tuesday gave an emotional press conference detailing his ordeal while pursuing investigations into the country’s massive graft scandal which allegedly saw witnesses go missing and him receiving death threats during former premier Najib Razak’s reign.

Mohd Shukri Abdull said his probe into the scandal, which implicated Najib in 2015, had led him to seek refuge in Washington and New York after he received word that he would be arrested for taking part in a multi-pronged taskforce that was working to press charges against Najib.

SEE ALSO: Mahathir threatens to ‘squeeze’ Malaysia PM Najib for 1MDB funds 

“We had our own intelligence sources, that I would be arrested and locked up, because I was accused as being part of a conspiracy to bring down the government,” Shukri said during a press conference.

“I was threatened to be fired, asked to retire early, take leave early, and be pulled into the training department.”

He added that he once received a bullet at his home.

“We wanted to bring back money that was stolen back to our country. Instead, we were accused of bringing down the country, we were accused of being traitors.”

The MACC has reopened a probe into suspicious money transfers into Najib’s bank account from SRC International, a former unit of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the state fund at the heart of the scandal.

Mohd Shukri said Najib was one day away from being arrested in July 2015, but intervention by the then administration saw the removal of the Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail, and the investigator’s subsequent departure to Washington, where he was trailed by an unknown officer.

“I had a friend who had photographs of the officer who was recording my movements…so I asked them to be sent to the then IGP (Inspector General of Police) to find out who this officer was for being stupid because I was the one that ended up trailing him instead.”

The shock election result less than two weeks ago upended Malaysia’s political order, as it was the first defeat for a coalition that had governed the Southeast Asian nation since its independence from colonial rule in 1957.

Malaysia’s new leader, Mahathir Mohamad, who at the age of 92 came out of political retirement and joined the opposition to topple his former protege, has reopened investigations into 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and has vowed to recover money that disappeared from the fund.

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Malaysia’s newly elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad attends a news conference in Menara Yayasan Selangor, Pataling Jaya, Malaysia May 12, 2018. Source: Reuters

Since losing power, Najib and his allegedly shopaholic wife, Rosmah Mansor, have suffered a series of humiliations, starting with a ban on them leaving the country, and then police searching their home and other properties.

US to pursue probe into 1MDB

Najib has consistently denied any wrongdoing since the 1MDB scandal erupted in 2015, but he replaced the attorney-general and several MACC officers to shut down an initial investigation.

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Malaysia’s former prime minister Najib Razak arrives to give a statement to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in Putrajaya, Malaysia May 22, 2018. Source: Reuters

Najib has said US$681 million of funds deposited in his personal bank account were a donation from a Saudi royal, rebutting reports that the funds came from 1MDB.

The initial focus of the MACC’s new probe is on how RM42 million (US$10.6 million) went from SRC International to Najib’s account.

SRC was created in 2011 by Najib’s government to pursue overseas investments in energy resources, and was a unit of 1MDB until it was moved to the finance ministry in 2012.

MACC has been able to track the money trail from SRC more easily because transactions were made through Malaysian entities, whereas most other transfers of 1MDB funds went through foreign banks and companies.

SEE ALSO: EXCLUSIVE: US files explain seizure of $250m superyacht in 1MDB scandal 

To investigate 1MDB, the new government on Monday set up a task force made up of members of the anti-graft agency, police and the central bank, to liaise with “enforcement agencies in the United States, Switzerland, Singapore, Canada and other related countries”.

The US Department of Justice said on Tuesday it would continue to pursue investigations into 1MDB and looked forward to working with Malaysian law enforcement authorities.

“The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that the United States and its financial system are not threatened by corrupt individuals and kleptocrats who seek to hide their ill-gotten wealth,” a DoJ spokesperson said in an email statement to Reuters.

“Whenever possible, recovered assets will be used to benefit the people harmed by these acts of corruption and abuse of office,” the statement added.

The US filed forfeiture complaints in 2016 and 2017 seeking to recover over $1.7 billion in assets traceable to funds allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB.

These complaints alleged that more than US$4.5 billion was diverted from 1MDB and laundered through a web of shell companies and bank accounts located in the United States and elsewhere.

With additional reporting by Reuters.

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