MACC reveals audio on alleged attempt to cover up 1MDB

Najib and 7 other individuals’ voices were identified as among the persons in the recordings


THE Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) yesterday released voice recordings that allegedly involved Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak in an attempt to cover up the millions looted from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

The 45-minute recording, comprising nine sets of conversations, was played to the media at MACC’s headquarters (HQ) in Putrajaya.

The former prime minister (PM) and seven other individuals’ voices were identified as among the persons in the recordings.

At the press conference, MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya alleged that Najib and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, as well as several top government officials had tried to “put a stop” on the commission’s investigation over 1MDB’s subsidiary, SRC International Sdn Bhd, which surfaced in 2016.

Latheefa said the clips, dated between Jan 5, 2016, and July 29, 2016, involved constructive planning to ensure that the case would not further escalate locally or globally.

She said the MACC received the clips right after the 2020 New Year’s eve. Latheefa then confirmed the tape’s authenticity via MACC’s extensive forensic tests.

However, she did not elaborate how the clips reached MACC’s HQ.

After the full recording was played, Latheefa said the MACC believed the remaining individuals in the conversations include ex-MACC chief Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad, former Lembaga Tabung Haji chairman Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad Zayed Al Nahyan and Mubadala Development Co CEO Khaldoon Al-Mubarak.

The other two that Latheefa named were Najib’s former officers Tan Sri Shukry Mohd Salleh and Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin.

In one of the nine clips, a female voice alleged to be Rosmah was heard reprimanding and directing a male, believed to be Najib, on how to “take charge of the situation” at hand and manage the 1MDB scandal.

The alleged conversation between “Najib” and “Rosmah” was believed to have taken place on July 27, 2016, at 12.46am.

Female: (shouting) Can I advise you something?

Male: Ya ya, anything?

Female: They tell you to slow down…but Abu Kassim (ex-MACC chief Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed) is talking, making statements and taking pictures with Pak Lah (Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi). They are making him the hero and you are the villain, you see. And all these people…can’t they see the priority is you and not anybody else.

Male: Who are these people?

Female: Ya la, your office… Shahlan, Tengku, Amhari have been convinced that we are all villains.

Male: No, no, no…I’ve allowed Azwan to make a statement and there was a good impact already.

Female: Okay fine, why they allowed Abu Kassim to take a picture with Pak Lah? So, please darling…

Male: No, I already signed the letter for Dzulkifli.

Female: I don’t like this. Darling, you are the PM. You should take charge…not anybody else okay? And you got goons around you that advise you.

The duo also discussed on how to invite representatives from the UAE to settle a financial dispute between 1MDB and International Petroleum Investment Co without arbitration.

Meanwhile, the first audio clip featured an alleged conversation between Najib and Dzulkifli, who expressed his worries over the MACC’s proposal to the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC), which might implicate the former PM on the misappropriation of the RM42 million from SRC International.

“The conversation revolved around an investigation paper. There was an obvious leak of information from the AGC to the person we believe was a subject of investigation. This is a breach of the Official Secret Act,” Latheefa said.

The other audio clips also allegedly revealed Najib’s efforts in seeking help from Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad

Zayed to resolve the 1MDB issues. There was also a “personal request” to the “prince” to save Riza Aziz, whose movie production in Hollywood was linked to 1MDB.

“If there can be an agreement with Sheikh Mansour signed, so that it can show it was legitimate instead of money laundering. At the moment, he’s under pressure in America. I’m worried if they make him a scapegoat.

“I hope the agreement can be signed immediately with Sheikh Mansour, so that it can appear as a legitimate loan agreement.

“When he received it, the bank cleared the source of money. I don’t want him to be a victim when he doesn’t know and genuinely think it’s from Sheikh Mansour. I need that agreement to be sorted out quickly,” the male voice in the recording stated.

The other voice then replied: “I promise you, I will do it now and I believe he is your son.”

Latheefa described the conversation as clear to fabricate evidence that would absolve Riza from any wrong-doing.

Latheefa said the revelation of the recordings would not jeopardise the ongoing court cases involving Najib. “I don’t see how it is going to affect (the trials). As far as we are concerned, this is of public interest and involves serious national security,” she said.

When asked if tapping someone’s phone — especially the PM — is against the law, Latheefa said, “I am not here as a lawyer, but as MACC chief.”

She added that the audio will be sent to the police for further action.

“We will give it to the police as soon as possible, and then, it is up to the prosecution, the AGC, on what they would like to do,” she said.

Meanwhile, MACC had also put the audio recording on its website for public access.

Najib, who was later met at the court, said he was surprised by the unprecedented disclosure of an audio recording implicating him and sought to study available legal routes against the apparent phone tapping.

Najib, currently dealing with multiple trials related to 1MDB, said he is reviewing the content of the recording has taken it to his lawyers.

“I was shocked by this revelation. I am studying the content and I have referred the matter to my lawyers. This has never been done in the country’s history and the timing is within the Kimanis by-election. So, I will discuss with my lawyers first,” he said at the Kuala Lumpur High Court during a break of the SRC International’s trial yesterday.

He said he would determine the legality of the wiretapping and the next steps that could be done by the law.

“I want to study that in terms of the law and what I can do,” Najib said adding, “I was the head of government at the time.”

Najib neither confirm nor deny the authenticity of the recordings.

“I have not verified it and I want to,” he said.

The Pekan MP did not rule out the shocking audio tapes as having political overtones, raising questions on the timing of the release being close to the Kimanis by-election.