Man wanted for questioning in 1MDB probe has been shuttling in and out of Indonesia over past three years

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission put Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil on a list of persons wanted in relation to investigations into 1MDB since July 2015.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission put Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil on a list of persons wanted in relation to investigations into 1MDB since July 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, a key figure linked to the case the Malaysian government is building against former Prime Minister Najib Razak, has been travelling in and out of Indonesia over the past three years, sources said.

This was despite the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) putting him on the list of persons wanted in relation to the investigations into 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and SRC In ternational Sdn Bhd since July 2015.

"He has been based in Indonesia since the 1MDB and SRC scandal broke out. However, he has been moving in and out of the country and has been in contact with persons close to him," said a source.

The former managing director of SRC, which was once a subsidiary of 1MDB, has family ties in Indonesia through his Indonesian wife whom he married three years ago.

"Many of his friends suddenly saw a big change in his living style and had no idea how he accumulated his wealth," said an acquaintance of Nik Faisal.

He is known to be a football fan and went to Brazil in 2014 to watch the World Cup for a whole month - sometimes shuttling to New York in between matches.

The MACC put out a notice for Nik Faisal in July 2015 when it first started a probe into the affairs of 1MDB and SRC, a company set up to look into resource-based investments.

SRC issued government-guaranteed debt papers to the tune of US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion) and the pension fund Kumpulan Wang Amanah Pencen took up the papers.

But so far, there are no significant assets backing its investments.

SRC, which is now under the Finance Ministry after suffering financial woes in 2012, allegedly transferred RM42 million into the personal bank account of Datuk Seri Najib.

The MACC is believed to have a strong case implicating key people linked to the scandal, including Najib, following its investigations into the financial transactions of SRC.

In 2015, MACC, under the first task force, recorded Nik Faisal's statement in Indonesia, followed by SRC director Suboh Md Yassin, who was also there.

However, the task force could not progress with filing charges as it was disbanded by the previous government.

It was recently reported that Datuk Suboh is believed to have surrendered to the MACC and given full witness protection.

New Straits Times reported last week that MACC could conclude its investigations into SRC if it could get hold of Nik Faisal, even without Jho Low - the alleged mastermind of the 1MDB saga.

Quoting sources, the report said that Nik Faisal was a very important person to the case and would most likely be the star witness.

But his whereabouts now are not known.

He is among those linked to the 1MDB scandal who have been barred from leaving the country.

"However, the travel ban is ineffective as Nik Faisal is already out of the country. But he still maintains an office in Kuala Lumpur with a few staff," said a source.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said this week Najib may be facing multiple charges related to the 1MDB scandal, adding that investigators have "an almost perfect case" against the principal suspects of the troubled fund.

He said the former premier's wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, was also under investigation in connection with the scandal, as some of the money was believed to have been given to her.

Both have been questioned by the MACC as part of the agency's probe.

Aside from Nik Faisal, MACC investigators are also looking at former 1MDB president and CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, said to be another key figure in the scandal.

Datuk Shahrol is the fund's first CEO and arguably the only prominent person who is still in the country.

According to sources, he was seen last week at the office of Malaysia Petroleum Resources Corporation (MPRC) where he is president and chief executive.

"As far as MPRC is concerned, Shahrol has been performing his duties and attending events of the organisation," a source told the The Star.

Sharol played a key role in the fund's formative years.

Most of the fund's major deals and borrowings took place on his watch, including the expensive acquisitions of power assets between 2012 and 2013.

According to the recently released Auditor-General's executive summary on 1MDB, Shahrol went ahead and signed an agreement with AmBank in May 2009 to issue a RM 5 billion bond, despite being told not to do so.

The report also chided the 1MDB management led by Shahrol for not providing the board with accurate information on transactions in relation to its investments that have mostly gone sour.

Shahrol, who had a stint at Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) after 1MDB, is also on the travel blacklist over 1MDB probe.