'I was sent a bullet' probing 1MDB, says Malaysian anti-graft chief

'I was sent a bullet' probing 1MDB, says Malaysian anti-graft chief
PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR - The head of Malaysia's anti-graft commission gave an emotional account on Tuesday of how he was harassed and threatened in 2015 while investigating the 1MDB state fund, and said that on one occasion a bullet was sent to his home.

Shukri Abdull was speaking after ousted Prime Minister Najib Razak arrived at the headquarters of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), which has ordered him to explain a suspicious transfer of $10.6 million into his bank account.

Shukri told a news conference he had called Najib into the agency to record a statement, not to arrest or charge him.

The MACC action is just the beginning of a new probe into the alleged theft of billions of dollars from 1MDB, a scandal that dogged the last three years of Najib's near-decade-long rule and was one of the main reasons why voters dumped him in a general election on May 9.

"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 told a news conference, shedding tears briefly during opening remarks.

"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 shock election result 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.

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 SAYS TO PURSUE 1MDB PROBE

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

Najib has said $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 42 million ringgit ($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.

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".

Malaysian police search places linked to ousted PM Najib

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    The cash and items seized from the six residences linked to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak amounted to between RM900 million (S$304 million) and RM1.1 billion, say the police.

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    He said that more than 12,000 pieces of jewellery - comprising 2,200 rings, 1,400 necklaces, 2,100 bracelets, 2,800 pairs of earrings,1,600 brooches and 14 tiaras were seized.

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    He added that this was the biggest seizure in Malaysian history.

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    Najib's wife Rosmah Mansor arrived at the headquarters of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to have her statement recorded in connection with a suspicious transfer of about $10.6 million (S$14.2 million) from the former 1MDB unit SRC International.

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    The sum is just a fraction of the billions of dollars allegedly siphoned from 1MDB, the state fund that Najib set up, in a scandal that dogged the last three years of his near-decade-long rule and was a key reason why he was voted out in a May 9 election.

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    M. Puravalen, a lawyer acting for Najib and Rosmah in connection with the SRC investigations, told Reuters on Tuesday he had "ceased acting" for Najib and Rosmah.

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    He said a second lawyer, Yusof Zainal Abideen, had also quit.

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    Puravalen, Abideen and other members of their legal team were reported to have walked out because they failed to reach common ground with Najib on several issues.

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    Najib has already made a series of statements to anti-graft investigators

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    but attention has shifted to his wife after police discovered hundreds of luxury handbags and a stash of jewelry and cash during raids on apartments linked to Najib and his family.

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    Malaysian police have seized 284 boxes filled with designer handbags, watches, jewellery and cash in various currencies from three luxury condominiums.

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    Comm Amar said the designer handbags were of various brands including Louis Vuitton and Birkin bags from Hermes.

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    He added that it was impossible for police to estimate the value of the items seized because there were just too many items and cash seized.

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    He also said that the apartment was not owned by Najib but a "Tan Sri".

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    Federal Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) director Comm Datuk Seri Amar Singh, who led the raids at Pavilion Residences here said this was part of its investigations into 1MDB.

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    This follows a police check of six locations linked to former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak here and in Putrajaya, including the Prime Minister's Office, his official residence as well as four other residences.

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    When asked whether Najib would be arrested, he said: "There is no indication that they (the police) will do it."

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    He said Najib and his family were cooperative with police. "They (the police) also acted professionally," he said.

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The U.S 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 $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.

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