Malaysia panel tells anti-graft agency to continue probe against PM

(From Reuters)

Malaysia’s anti-graft agency on Wednesday said an external review panel had asked it to continue investigations into a donation of $681 million received by Prime Minister Najib Razak, despite an order by the country’s top lawyer to close the case.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak speaking at ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur Nov 21

Najib Razak

Last month, Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali closed all investigations of Najib, after reviewing investigation reports from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) into debt-laden state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and the transfer of $681 million into Najib’s personal bank account.

Apandi said the funds transferred into Najib’s account were a donation from Saudi Arabia’s royal family, and added that no further action needed to be taken.

MACC sought a review of that decision, and on Wednesday it said the review panel had recommended it continue investigations into the transfer of funds, as they were “still incomplete”.

Apandi had no immediate comment, a spokesman for the attorney-general’s office told Reuters in a text message. A spokesman for the prime minister’s office declined to comment when contacted by telephone.

The eight-member review panel includes former civil servants, corporate figures, academics and lawyers. The panel monitors MACC investigations, but lacks the power to enforce its recommendations.

The panel also advised the anti-graft agency to seek the help of the attorney-general in obtaining mutual legal assistance to get further evidence and documents from banks overseas.

The anti-graft agency said the panel also recommended that investigation papers on SRC International, a 1MDB subsidiary investigated for alleged misappropriation of funds, be resubmitted to the attorney-general for review.

MACC has not revealed its findings or indicated whether any wrongdoing was involved, saying any decision to take further action would be up to the attorney-general.

Najib enjoys the backing of most of the powerful division chiefs in his ruling United Malays National Organisation party, and most of his critics concede that he cannot be unseated.

In moves that were widely seen as stamping out dissent last year, he sacked his critical deputy prime minister, replaced the former attorney-general with Apandi and cracked down on opposition leaders and academics.

Balloon drop at PM event ‘insulting’

A woman’s actions in dropping yellow balloons at an event attended by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak risked angering those present due to the proximity to the Bersih 4 rally, the Magistrates Court in Kuala Lumpur heard Wednesday, The Malay Mail Online reports.

Bilqis Hijjas

Bilqis Hijjas

According to auxiliary police officer Irmalinda Zaimardy, who was testifying at the trial of Bilqis Hijjas, she arrested the woman and subsequently lodged a police report against her as the incident took place a day after the rally demanding the prime minister’s resignation in 2015.

“Because she did it in a manner that was insulting with the purpose of sparking anger where the peace may be disturbed,” she said from the witness stand when deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Nurakmal Farhan Aziz asked what motivated her to take Bilqis into custody.

But when asked how the yellow balloons could be directly linked to the Bersih 4 rally, Irmalinda paused at length several times before saying she had been on standby in the Bukit Bintang shopping district for the protest.

When pressed to explain how the two were connected, the auxiliary police officer remained silent and did not respond.

The DPP then asked for the trial to be postponed, saying that the witness appeared “unwell”.



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