PETALING JAYA: An ex-senior Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) officer said there is ample evidence for the anti-graft agency to investigate the financial fiasco involving state investor 1MDB.
Ramli Manan said investigators had only to look into 1MDB-related court proceedings in Singapore and the United States’ Department of Justice (DoJ) reports to assist them in their probes.
“The evidence there is glaring and it could be of great assistance to MACC officers,” said Ramli, who retired as director of the Sabah ACA.
The ACA is the forerunner of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission or MACC. The change in name followed the introduction of a fresh legislation and new administrative structure in 2009.
Ramli told FMT: “It is only the MACC that has the expertise and experience to carry out investigation on graft and abuse of power. Police only can probe Penal Code offences.”
He said this in response to Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua’s disappointment with a parliamentary reply that the MACC would not investigate 1MDB as the police, Bank Negara, and the Public Accounts Committee had done so.
Ramli said the MACC also had the power to investigate prescribed offences under the Penal Code, such as criminal breach of trust, misappropriation of property, theft and forgery.
He said the MACC, being an independent body, need not wait for instructions from anyone to start or resume its investigations should it come across evidence of corruption.
“No one, including the attorney-general, who is the public prosecutor, can order the MACC to halt its investigation,” he said.
Under the present legal scheme, the MACC, however needs to submit its investigation papers to the public prosecutor who has the sole discretion to “institute, conduct or discontinue any proceeding for a criminal offence”.
Earlier this week, Pua described the government’s answer to why the MACC would not be investigating the alleged misappropriation of funds and abuse of power in 1MDB, as “shameless and irresponsible”.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Paul Low, in his written reply to Pua’s question, had said the MACC was not investigating 1MDB because the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and the police had done so.
Meanwhile, former Umno leader Khairuddin Abu Hassan said he had since 2014 filed at least three reports with the MACC over affairs in the 1MDB but the agency had never updated him on the progress of the investigations.
“They called me and took statements that lasted for hours, but nothing happened,” said Khairuddin, who was instead charged with sabotaging the local banking and financial system for making reports over 1MBD in several countries in 2014 and 2015.
Also prosecuted was his lawyer Matthias Chang. However, the court later acquitted them on grounds the prosecution had not presented any evidence linking them to the charge.
Khairuddin questioned the need to have the MACC to fight graft when the agency seemed to be controlled and dictated by people in power.
On June 17, MACC chief commissioner Dzulkifli Ahmad said the agency would not investigate 1MDB over allegations of financial improprieties as it did not want to overlap with investigations already started by the police.
In court filings in California on June 5, the DoJ sought to seize US$540 million (RM2.3 billion) in assets, including art works, jewellery, a luxury yacht and film rights purchased with funds allegedly embezzled from 1MDB.
The assets named in the applications included the film rights to the two comedies “Dumb and Dumber To” starring Jim Carrey and “Daddy’s Home” featuring Will Ferrell.
The action followed the DoJ’s civil forfeiture suit in June last year which sought to recover all the assets, including, but not limited to, the Park Lane Hotel in New York, a luxury hotel in Beverly Hills, condominiums in New York, a private jet and expensive works of art, as well as finances related to Martin Scorsese’s movie “The Wolf of Wall Street” starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
Prosecutors in Singapore have secured convictions against those who were involved in commercial crimes related to 1MDB and fined foreign banks for breach of its local laws.
On Oct 31, Attorney-General Apandi Ali said he had instructed the police to collect more evidence into 1MDB as “25% to 30% of the investigation paper (IP) submitted had to be reviewed.”
The latest issue of The Economist appeared to make fun of the situation when, after noting that the US, Switzerland and Singapore had conducted investigations into 1MDB, added: “In theory, Malaysia has too. But the only person convicted in Malaysia in relation to the scandal is an opposition politician who leaked parts of the auditor-general’s investigation because the government declared it an official secret.”