KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - Malaysia’s newly appointed Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said on Wednesday (June 6) there would be “no cover-ups” as he promised to institute criminal and civil action over a graft scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
At least six countries, including the United States, Singapore and Switzerland, are investigating claims that $4.5 billion (S$6 billion) was siphoned out of 1MDB, founded by former premier Najib Razak.
“I have therefore to study all the papers in that scandal. We will institute criminal and civil proceedings in our courts against the alleged wrongdoers,” Mr Thomas told reporters on his first day in office.
“All are equal before the law and no one is spared. There will be no cover-up.”
He also said he would immediately contact the authorities in other countries investigating 1MDB, with the aim of returning billions of dollars allegedly stolen from the fund.
Other tasks on his immediate agenda included repealing oppressive laws, and reviewing Malaysia’s contracts with other countries.
“On my part, I promise to do the right thing, that is to tell the truth and to do justice. Justice must not only be done but it must also be seen to be done,” he said.
Mr Thomas is the country’s first non-Muslim attorney-general in decades, and his appointment had been opposed by some sections of the majority ethnic Malay community.
“Free speech means everybody can criticise you, so I am happy for everybody to criticise me,” Mr Thomas said in response.
He was appointed on Tuesday to replace Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali, who in 2016 had cleared Datuk Seri Najib of any wrongdoing in the 1MDB case.
Mr Mohamed Apandi was ordered to go on leave by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, shortly after Mr Najib’s coalition was defeated in a shock election result last month.
Tun Dr Mahathir also reopened 1MDB investigations and barred Mr Najib and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, from leaving the country.
Malaysia’s anti-corruption commission has questioned both Mr Najib and Madam Rosmah in connection with a graft probe into SRC International, a former unit of 1MDB.
Mr Najib has denied any wrongdoing and said in 2016 that the Malaysian government would cooperate with US investigations. Madam Rosmah’s lawyer said she would cooperate fully with investigators in the case.