Phone recordings show abuse of power, fabrication of evidence — Latheefa

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PUTRAJAYA (Jan 8): The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has released a number of phone recordings revolving around former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak when he was sorting out the issues surrounding the investigation into 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) in 2016.

At a press conference today, MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya played nine clips of phone conversations between Jan 5, 2016 and July 29, 2016 across nearly 45 minutes combined.

The recordings, she said, were received by the MACC "after the new year" (January 2020).

"We are quite satisfied that the recordings were authentic," Latheefa said, adding that the dates for each recording were stated in the name of each file.

She added that the MACC does not see how releasing the clips is subjudicial to the ongoing court cases involving 1MDB and Najib, as the release was done in the public interest.

Ex-MACC chief Dzulkifli Ahmad leaked AGC information to Najib in 2016
[Listen to an excerpt of the recording here]

The clips are in three parts. The first part include conversations involving a person who appears to be former MACC chief Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad — then a deputy public prosecutor in the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC).

Dzulkifli was heard briefing Najib on an investigation paper in January 2016, which Latheefa said should be the one on former 1MDB unit SRC International Sdn Bhd.

Dzulkifli was heard saying that the Attorney General — then Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali — was "very good" but that the recommendation by the MACC on the case was troublesome.

"It is very bad… [Former MACC chief Tan Sri] Abu Kassim [Mohamed] cannot wash his hands and say he was not involved with the decision [by the MACC]," said Dzulkifli.

"From the legal side, Tan Sri Apandi can handle, I can handle," Dzulkifli was heard saying. He added that while there is no issue with 1MDB as at January 2016, Najib was "played" by past incidents — likely referring to before the sudden top-position reshuffling in the nation's executive body in 2015.

Dzulkifli was also heard speaking to another person, which MACC identified as Najib's former private secretary Tan Sri Shukry Mohammad Salleh.

Najib scrambled to shake off money laundering allegations, sought UAE help 
[Listen to an excerpt of the recording here]

Meanwhile, separate recordings captured conversations between Najib and parties from the United Arab Emirates, including UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Mubadala Development Co managing director Khaldoon Al Mubarak.

The calls were made following a US Department of Justice (DoJ) announcement in July 2016, of the billion-dollar scandal involving 1MDB.

"We are experiencing a bit of dark clouds, as a result of yesterday's announcement by the DoJ," said Najib to the crown prince.

Najib was also heard asking for a "personal request" — for the UAE to establish a "loan agreement" between his stepson Riza Aziz and UAE deputy prime minister Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, due to the 1MDB money trail to Riza's Hollywood film production house Red Granite Pictures.

"The problem is relatively small, if there can be an agreement with Sheikh Mansour, a loan agreement, that will show it is a legitimate financing package, not money laundering.

"He is under pressure in America, and I am worried about him being a scapegoat.

"I would appreciate if that agreement can be signed quickly so it appears as a legitimate loan. When he received it, the bank cleared the source of money, so he was not aware," said Najib.

"I don't want him to be a victim. He genuinely believed it was from Aabar [Investments PJS], from Sheikh Mansour.

"I need that agreement to be sorted out quickly," Najib told the crown prince. "He said all he wanted was to make movies, and there was an offer of loan from Sheikh Mansour."

Najib had asked to meet the crown prince personally in July 2016, but the request was later rejected.

Rosmah advises Najib to manoeuvre 
[Listen to an excerpt of the recording here]

Another recording was between Najib and a person MACC identified as his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, where Rosmah was heard shouting at Najib to "advise" him on the matter.

"Can I advise you something?" shouted Rosmah at one point. "Darling, you are the PM, you should take charge. You have goons around to advise you," she had told Najib.

From the conversation, it appears Rosmah was actively in the know about the politics surrounding Najib. There was unhappiness towards Abu Kassim's role in the investigations into Najib.

"They tell us to slow down on Abu Kassim, but now he is making statements," said Rosmah, referring to what MACC officials clarified as the surprise press conference by Abu Kassim on June 23, 2016 when he told the press there was no pressure for him to resign from the anti-graft agency.

Rosmah also advised Najib to bypass his then-special officer Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin to communicate with Khaldoon, and to invite Khaldoon to their home to discuss the tangle-up and resolve it once and for all.

"Bukannya dia tak kenal kita, pernah makan minum rumah kita (It is not like he (Khaldoon) does not know us, he has had a meal in our home)," said Rosmah. "Then tell the crown prince. We wasted one week already."

Najib responded that the UAE parties "wanted to see movement", and that "the Chinese side is moving already", adding that he will speak to Amhari about Khaldoon.

There were also conversations between Najib and Amhari, following a failed arrangement to meet Khaldoon in Jakarta, Indonesia, to resolve the tussle between 1MDB and IPIC, which later escalated into an international arbitration.

After the recordings were played, Latheefa said: "Based on our understanding there are signs of abuse of power, obstruction of justice, and fabrication of false evidence based on the recording."

Latheefa said the recordings will be given to the relevant authorities while it continues with its part of the investigation.

She refused to comment on whether the authorities will seek to work with the UAE to clear the air on the matter, if the files will be tendered as new evidence in the ongoing trials, or if they will file new charges against the people involved in the recordings.

See also:
Rosmah: My lawyers are looking into recordings
Recordings released by MACC mention 19 names, including Najib and Rosmah
Najib shocked by MACC's revelation being so close to Kimanis by-election
First batch of audio recordings handed over to police — Latheefa