Chief graft-buster to step down in August

A 1MDB billboard with Malaysia's iconic Petronas Towers in the background in Kuala Lumpur.
A 1MDB billboard with Malaysia's iconic Petronas Towers in the background in Kuala Lumpur.PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR • The head of Malaysia's anti-graft body is stepping down in August, the government announced, fast forwarding the end of his tenure by two years.

Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed, who has led the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for over six years, denied that he had been under pressure to vacate the post. "There have been many cases throughout my six years as chief commissioner. I am satisfied with how all of it has been handled," said Tan Sri Abu Kassim, according to The Star daily.

Last year, the 55-year-old came under the spotlight over his agency's role in investigating allegations of corruption in indebted state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and over reports of some US$700 million (S$937 million) found in Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal bank accounts.

The Straits Times understands that the new chief would not be one of Mr Abu Kassim's three deputies in the MACC.

Instead, his successor is expected to hail from the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC). Sources say the front runner for the post is senior AGC official Dzulkifli Ahmad.

The AGC is now headed by Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali, seen by critics as a loyalist of Datuk Seri Najib. Tan Sri Apandi replaced his successor in July last year, the same day that Mr Najib sacked deputy premier Muhyiddin Yassin amid roiling questions over 1MDB's fund transfers.

In January, Mr Apandi cleared Mr Najib of any wrongdoing, saying the bulk of the money found in the Prime Minister's bank accounts in 2013 was a political donation from the Saudi royal family.

Shannon Teoh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2016, with the headline 'Chief graft-buster to step down in August'. Print Edition | Subscribe