Former A-G was preparing to charge Najib: Mahathir

Freed Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim (left) being greeted by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Datuk Seri Anwar had emerged earlier from a rehabilitation hospital in Cheras, where he was serving his sente
Freed Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim (left) being greeted by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Datuk Seri Anwar had emerged earlier from a rehabilitation hospital in Cheras, where he was serving his sentence after an operation on his shoulder.PHOTO: BERNAMA
Mr Anwar Ibrahim meeting Malaysia's King, Sultan Muhammad V, at Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur yesterday after receiving a royal pardon.
Mr Anwar Ibrahim meeting Malaysia's King, Sultan Muhammad V, at Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur yesterday after receiving a royal pardon.PHOTO: REUTERS

Ex-govt legal adviser placed on early retirement by then PM that same morning in 2015, he says

Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has confirmed that a charge sheet against former premier Najib Razak was prepared by former attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail in 2015 before the legal adviser was promptly placed on early retirement by Datuk Seri Najib.

"He claims that he was preparing to charge Najib and that morning he was deprived of his position," Tun Dr Mahathir said at a press conference yesterday.

Tan Sri Abdul Gani was retired as A-G in July 2015 due to what the government said then were his "health problems", and replaced by Tan Sri Apandi Ali. Mr Abdul Gani was at the time heading a task force investigating money-laundering allegations at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

His dismissal sparked media speculation that he was preparing charges of criminal misappropriation against Mr Najib, after RM2.6 billion (S$880 million) allegedly linked to 1MDB was found in the former premier's personal account.

Mr Najib has said the funds were a donation from the Saudi royal family, and he was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing by Mr Abdul Gani's replacement, Tan Sri Apandi.

Dr Mahathir, who heads the new Pakatan Harapan government that defeated Mr Najib's Barisan Nasional coalition at last Wednesday's elections, has pledged to look into the previous government's dealings, including at 1MDB. He met Mr Abdul Gani on Tuesday.

In the meantime, Mr Apandi has been placed on forced leave by the new administration, with effect from Monday.

Several people have also been prevented from leaving the country, including Mr Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor. According to news site Malaysiakini.com, others facing a travel ban are Mr Apandi, former national police chief Khalid Abu Bakar, former secretary-general of the Ministry of Finance and 1MDB chairman Irwan Serigar Abdullah, former chief of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Dzulkifli Ahmad and 1MDB chief executive Arul Kanda.

From his meetings with senior government officials where he was briefed on corruption, Dr Mahathir said: "It is clear there have been many more wrongdoings than what we know in public. We will make police reports. And if it reaches the point where we can make arrests, we will make the arrests."

The PM also promised to recover 1MDB funds that have been transferred abroad in a complex case where the monies reportedly criss-crossed the globe. The fund flows have resulted in probes in several countries including the United States, Switzerland and Singapore.

"We want to make a statement that the money belongs to Malaysia and it came from 1MDB," he said, adding that the monies were expected to "help us resolve several debts we have".

But Dr Mahathir stressed that the new administration would still pay off 1MDB's substantial debts.

"If it implicates the government, the government has to pay," he said. "Otherwise, we will be sued or made bankrupt if we fail to pay."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2018, with the headline 'Former A-G was preparing to charge Najib: Mahathir'. Print Edition | Subscribe