KUALA LUMPUR: Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak was summoned on Tuesday (May 22) to make a statement in an investigation into a subsidiary company of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the head of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said.
In a press conference, the new head of the MACC Mohd Shukri Abdull said Najib was brought in for questioning on SRC International (SRC), and not so that the agency could arrest him.
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.
Mohd Shukri said MACC would be taking the statement of two important witnesses before proceeding to make any arrests relating to the case on SRC and 1MDB.
"Depending on the evidence and documents as well as depending on how he (Najib) answers ... if we are satisfied we can let him go, but if we still need his statement again, we will call him back," he said.
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.
The embattled former leader had been ordered by the MACC to explain a suspicious transfer of RM42 million (US$10.6 million) from SRC into his bank account.
The sum is just a fraction of billions of dollars allegedly siphoned from state fund 1MDB, a scandal that dogged the last three years of Najib's near-decade-long rule and was one of the main reasons his ruling Barisan Nasional coalition lost in the May 9 election.
Mohd Shukri added that the MACC respected Najib as a former prime minister: "We must respect him because he is our former PM, I am not going to take revenge on anybody but will let the law speak."
MOHD SHUKRI THREATENED IN 2015
During the presser, Mohd Shukri said he was warned in 2015 that he would lose his job as the deputy head of MACC, before being asked to retire early during a probe into 1MDB's affairs that year.
Mohd Shukri also said he experienced huge pressure when he was investigating 1MDB as MACC deputy when Najib was prime minister, saying he “almost died”. He added he was “threatened” and that the whole experience was “quite frightening”.
"I was threatened to be fired, asked to retire early, take leave early, and be pulled into the training department," Mohd Shukri said, later adding that he received a bullet at his home.
Mohd Shukri said his agency had been poised to launch a case in 2015 against Najib but had been stopped in its tracks by the sacking of the attorney-general. Recounting events back then, Mohd Shukri gave the most revealing account so far of the cover-up.
"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," Mohd Shukri said, shedding tears briefly as he made his opening remarks.
"We wanted to bring back money that was stolen back to Malaysia. Instead we were accused of bringing down the country; we were accused of being traitors."
MACC officers were arrested and witnesses went missing during the initial investigation into 1MDB, said Mohd Shukri.
But Mohd Shukri said he was coaxed out of retirement by newly elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to lead the graft agency, and he accepted to finish the probe into 1MDB and SRC International.
"I'm coming back to finish what I haven't finished," he said.
He also added that he is not seeking revenge, saying that the law should be allowed to take its course.
Malaysia's special taskforce on 1MDB on Tuesday said it will focus on criminal action on people involved through anti-corruption law, anti-money laundering law and the penal code.
SAUDI PRINCE COULDN'T GIVE SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS
Mohd Shukri also said that MACC investigators met with the Saudi prince whom Najib claimed donated RM2.6 billion into his personal bank account. However, the prince could not prove this transaction with documentary evidence, Mohd Shukri claimed.
On Tuesday, the US Department of Justice said it would continue to pursue investigations related to 1MDB, adding that it was looking forward to working with Malaysian authorities on the matter.
The US filed forfeiture complaints in 2016 and 2017 seeking to recover over US$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.