Malaysia's anti-graft officer 'disappointed' at state fund scandal, takes early retirement

A senior official at Malaysia's anti-graft agency has opted for early retirement, frustrated that a case involving alleged loss of government funds into Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal account did not end up in court.
A senior official at Malaysia's anti-graft agency has opted for early retirement, frustrated that a case involving alleged loss of government funds into Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal account did not end up in court. PHOTO: REUTERS

PUTRAJAYA - A senior official at Malaysia's anti-graft agency has opted for early retirement, telling local media that he was frustrated that a case involving alleged loss of government funds did not end up in court.

Datuk Bahri Mohd Zin was a director at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) which probed state fund SRC International Sdn Bhd, with allegations that some RM42 million (S$13.6 million) of its money ended up in the personal accounts of Prime Minister Najib Razak.

But a Cabinet minister on Tuesday (Jan 3) said not all MACC investigations would end up in court, and even if they did, not all cases ended up with convictions.

Mr Bahri, 58, told the Malaysiakini and Free Malaysia Today (FMT) news websites that he chose early retirement on Dec 16, instead of two years later due to the SRC case.

"I'm not only disappointed, but I also felt like I had sinned against 30 million Malaysians when the SRC case could not be taken to court," Mr Bahri told FMT.

He told Malaysiakini: "There was too much money lost. I should not serve in spider-web laws."

Asked what he meant, he said it referred to laws that punished small offenders but allowed the bigger wrongdoers to escape. He declined to elaborate.

PM Najib has said he was not aware of any SRC funds in his account.

Last year, Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali cleared Mr Najib in the SRC case.

Responding to Mr Bahri's claims, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan told FMT: "MACC's job is to investigate, but this doesn't mean it will lead to a prosecution."

He added: "If the Attorney-General (AG) states that there is no merit for the case to be brought to court, then we have to believe that it was decided based on the facts presented to him."

Like 1Malaysia Development Bhd, SRC is a state fund set up for strategic investments but later got embroiled with alleged missing funds.

Such open comments by a retiring civil servant are unusual in Malaysia, especially as he held a sensitive post.

A farewell party was held last month for Mr Bahri and a number of other MACC staff who had retired were present, but Mr Bahri himself did not attend the gathering, Malaysiakini said.

SRC was a unit under 1MDB but is now a company placed under the Finance Ministry.

The Malaysian government last July replaced the three top officers at MACC after being at loggerheads with PM Najib over allegations of graft linked to RM2.6 billion found in the latter's private accounts.