Investigation into 1MDB goes full steam

Former AG Abdul Gani leads a new team of investigators to probe into state-owned fund

By SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / Pic By AFIF ABD HALIM

Probes into the 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) multibillion ringgit scandal have kicked up a notch as authorities widen the search for data, appoint former 1MDB investigators and prepare to haul a person of interest for questioning.

Former Attorney General (AG) Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, who was part of a special 1MDB task force previously, has been chosen to lead a new team of investigators to probe the state-owned sovereign fund.

Abdul Gani was investigating the money trail involving the fund and its subsidiaries before he was replaced in July 2015 in what the former government claimed was due to health reasons. But latest reports suggested that the country’s former top prosecutor at the time was preparing to charge former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak in relation to the monies misappropriated from the fund.

Abdul Gani’s replacement, Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali, however, cleared Najib of any wrongdoing in relation to RM2.6 billion channelled into his personal accounts.

Besides Abdul Gani, the new investigation team also features another former 1MDB investigator, Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed. The former Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief was replaced as the probe into 1MDB intensified.

Another member of the original task force, former Bank Negara Malaysia governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz, is already a member of the Council of Eminent Persons.

The new 1MDB task force also includes the newly-apointed MACC chief Datuk Seri Mohd Shukri Abdull and former Special Branch deputy director Datuk Abdul Hamid Bador.

They will resume the probes into 1MDB, seek to recover all assets lost due to embezzlements and prose- cute anyone who participated in siphoning billions from the state-owned fund.

“The unit will be responsible for coordinating the investigation, as well as tracking the financial assets derived from the embezzlement of 1MDB funds that were invested locally and outside the country.

“The task force is also responsible to conduct the criminal charges on individuals who are related to 1MDB’s wrongdoings,” said the Prime Minister’s Office in a statement yesterday.

The task force will work with international enforcement agencies from the US, Switzerland, Singapore, Canada and other countries.

“With the establishment of this unit and involvement of various enforcement agencies, the government hopes to clear the country’s name of the alleged scandal.”

Meanwhile, former PM Najib has been summoned to the MACC’s headquarters in Putrajaya today to have his statement taken in relation to the investigations into SRC International Sdn Bhd, 1MDB’s former subsidiary. SRC has guaranteed debt papers worth RM4 billion.

Najib is hellbent that all the 1MDB-related accusations hurled against him were lies and meant to tarnish him.

The US Department of Justice estimated at least US$4.5 billion (RM17.91 billion) had been misappropriated from the sovereign wealth fund in what the agency called “the largest kleptocracy case” in the country’s history.

Swiss national Xavier Justo, who leaked PetroSaudi International Ltd’s emails related to its 1MDB deal, met Dr Mahathir for the second time yesterday in Putrajaya.

He first met Dr Mahathir on Sunday at the latter’s residence in Seri Kembangan. The two meetings heightened speculation that Justo has vital information related to the 1MDB- PetroSaudi deal and will cooperate with local authorities to unearth the truth behind the scandal. Justo was imprisoned in Thailand for black-mailing his former employer, PetroSaudi.