Najib to give statement by year end, says A-G

Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali took up the post in August.
Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali took up the post in August.

Attorney-General says PM has agreed; urges anti-graft agency to speed up 1MDB probe

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) must record Prime Minister Najib Razak's statement by the end of the year in relation to the funds that were deposited into his personal accounts, Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali said yesterday.

Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi said he had made this requirement known to Datuk Seri Najib and the premier agreed to it, The Malaysian Insider news website reported. "Sooner or later, before they (MACC) give me the file, PM must give his statement," Tan Sri Apandi said, referring to the ongoing investigations into the RM2.6 billion (S$857 billion) funds.

Mr Apandi, who took up the post just over three months ago, also told the anti-graft agency to swiftly complete investigations into SRC International, a company owned by the Finance Ministry, which had allegedly transferred money to Mr Najib's accounts, and into state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). This is particularly so as Malaysia's nine royal rulers had jointly urged the government last month to quickly conclude the investigations, he was quoted as saying.

The interview was the first time that the new attorney-general, who controversially took over from Tan Sri Gani Patail in the midst of probes into Mr Najib's accounts and 1MDB, had given a deadline for the investigations to be concluded.

In August, MACC confirmed the existence of funds in Mr Najib's accounts but said they were donations from the Middle East.

The agency also made known then that it would summon Mr Najib to explain the donations but did not set a date for their meeting.

The funds discovered in the bank accounts of the Premier and the struggles of 1MDB to repay debts of RM42 billion have sparked calls for Mr Najib's resignation, led by former premier Mahathir Mohamad. But the probes into the funds and 1MDB have largely stalled in the last three months after Mr Najib sacked deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, replaced the attorney-general and moved out four members of Parliament's Public Accounts Committee, which is also investigating the scandals.

Malaysia's royal rulers, in a rare intervention into politics, last month issued a joint statement asking the government to quickly conclude investigations into 1MDB saying "the failure to give convincing clarifications and answers is feared to have resulted in a crisis of confidence".

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Azalina Othman Said last week said that answers on the funds issue and on 1MDB will be given in Parliament on Dec 3.

Meanwhile, Tun Dr Mahathir, in a speech at an anti-corruption symposium, yesterday said the attorney-general - the government's top prosecutor - has absolute discretion in prosecuting cases and no one could challenge his decision if he decided not to pursue a case involving someone above him.

To prevent this from occurring, Dr Mahathir proposed that a set of criteria should be established for the attorney-general's chambers to take over such powers from the attorney-general in such situations.

He added that an individual's lavish lifestyle was enough to indicate graft and that the courts should accept this as sufficient to take action against anyone suspected of being corrupt. He had previously criticised Mr Najib's extravagant lifestyle in his personal blog, saying that the latter's expenditure did not correspond to a prime minister's salary. He had also attacked the lavish wedding reception of Mr Najib's daughter, calling it "the wedding of the century".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 12, 2015, with the headline 'Najib to give statement by year end, says A-G'. Print Edition | Subscribe