Allegations by new anti-graft chief on 1MDB could prejudice case, lawyers say

Malaysia's anti-graft chief Mohd Shukri Abdull had claimed he and other senior investigators were offered bribes and threatened during the 2015 probe into state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, and later transferred out. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Officers involved in the 1MDB probe should not speak too much publicly so as to not prejudice investigations, two senior lawyers have said, as they commented on the tell-all news conference on Tuesday by new anti-graft chief Mohd Shukri Abdull.

Datuk Seri Shukri had claimed he and other senior investigators were offered bribes and threatened during the 2015 probe into scandal-hit state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), and later transferred out.

Mr Shukri, who was persuaded to return to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) from retirement by the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, also said he met senior Malaysian ministers and the Council of Rulers to ask them to replace then PM Najib Razak over the scandal.

Former Malaysian attorney-general Abu Talib Othman told reporters on Wednesday (May 23), when asked about the tell-all news conference: "In my personal opinion, the fewer public statements made, the better because it may prejudice the investigations and court proceedings, should there be any.

"It should be less talk more work."

A PH MP who is also a lawyer, Mr Ramkarpal Singh, said while he sympathised with Mr Shukri, his action could suggest his impartiality has been compromised as his investigations may be related to the harassment he claimed to have experienced in the past.

"It can potentially lead to a miscarriage of justice in the event parties are charged in relation to the said matter in the future on the grounds that investigations were biased as this would be a serious breach of natural justice which any accused person is entitled to," said Mr Ramkarpal in a statement.

"I strongly urge Shukri to stop such public outbursts and lodge the necessary police reports for the necessary action to be taken."

Mr Shukri spoke to the media on Tuesday at the same time that Datuk Seri Najib was in the same MACC headquarters in Putrajaya to give a statement about a sum of money allegedly placed in his account that originated from SRC International, what was then a unit of 1MDB.

The investigators in the 1MDB case in 2015 were also offered a sum of RM3 million (S$1 million) each to drop the case by an alleged "messenger" from higher-ups in the then Barisan Nasional government, The Straits Times had learnt. The investigators refused.

In his response to the tell-all, Bar Council president George Varughese said it was inappropriate and unprofessional for the new MACC chief commissioner to divulge details of what allegedly transpired in respect of the 1MDB investigations prior to his retirement.

"This is especially so since fresh investigations are ongoing and it could potentially jeopardise and prejudice the same," he said.

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