Lawyers caution anti-graft chief over 1MDB allegations

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief Mohd Shukri Abdull had revealed details of harassment and bribery related to the 1MDB probe in 2015 during a tell-all news conference on Tuesday. Several prominent lawyers have said his outburst could affect
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief Mohd Shukri Abdull had revealed details of harassment and bribery related to the 1MDB probe in 2015 during a tell-all news conference on Tuesday. Several prominent lawyers have said his outburst could affect the course of justice.

KUALA LUMPUR • Officers involved in the 1MDB probe should not speak too much publicly so as not to prejudice investigations, three 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 that 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 Prime Minister Najib Razak over the scandal.

Former Malaysian attorney-general Abu Talib Othman told reporters on Wednesday, 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," he added.

A PH MP who is also a lawyer, Mr Ramkarpal Singh, said that while he sympathised with Mr Shukri, the MACC chief's 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," Mr Ramkar-pal said 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, a former subsidiary of 1MDB.

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

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2018, with the headline 'Lawyers caution anti-graft chief over 1MDB allegations'. Print Edition | Subscribe