Malaysia's public prosecutor has defended the government's investigations into troubled state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), saying they are ongoing, and added that no further action would be taken against 1MDB concerning Bank Negara's probe into the firm's overseas dealings.
Yesterday's remarks by the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) followed Tuesday's rare rebuke by the country's nine Malay rulers calling on Prime Minister Najib Razak's administration to swiftly and seriously probe the debt-laden 1MDB and act on the findings.
The AGC said a high-level multi- agency task force probing 1MDB was still in place, despite the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) saying on Aug 5 that it had been disbanded by Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali.
Tan Sri Mohamed was appointed as the country's top lawyer after his predecessor - and task force leader - Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail was removed on July 28.
"In fact, the investigations conducted by the respective agencies were never at any time halted or hindered. The Attorney-General has been constantly monitoring and giving instructions to the agencies whenever the investigations were referred to the AGC, including instructions to expedite investigations," the AGC said in a statement, insisting it had never said the task force was disbanded.
It also explained that the police and MACC, which are members of the task force, "have not completed their investigations as some key witnesses' statements have yet to be recorded".
The last member of the task force, Bank Negara, said in August that it had completed investigations concerning investments abroad or offshore borrowings by 1MDB that required the central bank's approval. It did not say what the transactions that required approval were.
The public prosecutor said the probe into whether 1MDB "knowingly or recklessly" made a statement "which is false in a material particular" revealed no offence had been committed, and this was communicated to the central bank last month. Bank Negara then requested on Oct 1 that the decision be reviewed.
"Having considered the request and the fact that there was no new evidence made available, the Attorney-General decided to maintain the decision made earlier," the statement said.
The task force had raided several offices, including 1MDB's Kuala Lumpur headquarters, and arrested a few individuals after a July 3 report in the Wall Street Journal said US$700 million (S$986 million) linked to 1MDB was deposited into Datuk Seri Najib's private accounts.
Analysts said the stern message from Malaysia's highly respected sultans and kings concerning 1MDB is likely to pile pressure on Mr Najib, who is 1MDB's chief adviser.
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said yesterday that the government had taken proactive steps to resolve the issues raised by the rulers. "The legal system in the Constitution is clear and if any party is found responsible, legal action will be taken," he said.
The lawyer for detained former Umno branch leader Khairuddin Abu Hassan, who had been travelling overseas to press foreign agencies to probe 1MDB, was himself arrested yesterday under the same Security Offences (Special Measures) Act as Datuk Khairuddin was.
The arrest of Mr Matthias Chang, a known associate of former premier Mahathir Mohamad, a staunch Najib critic, comes just days before he was scheduled to appear in court to represent Mr Khairuddin.