KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28: Anti-graft agency said on Wednesday it will seek a review of a decision by the attorney-general to clear Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in a graft investigation.
Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali cleared Najib of any criminal offences or corruption on Tuesday, and said he was closing investigations into a murky multi-million-dollar funding scandal that his opponents had hoped would bring him down.
Najib was buffeted last year by allegations of graft and mismanagement at the debt-laden state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and by a revelation that about US$681 million was deposited into his personal bank account.
Apandi said the US$681 million transfer to Najib’s account was a gift from Saudi Arabia’s royal family, and added that no further action needed to be taken on the matter.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said it would submit Apandi’s decision to an Operations Review Panel (PPO), which reviews cases where the public prosecutor has not pursued charges, and another special panel to be appointed.
It said in a statement it would also seek a review of another decision by Apandi, to close a case against SRC International, a former 1MDB subsidiary that was investigated for alleged misappropriation of funds.
Apandi was not immediately available for comment.
The panel may meet as early as Thursday and may form an opinion by the end of the week.
One of the panel members told Channel NewsAsia that the panel mandate is administrative. While it can recommend actions, MACC will ultimately decide whether to appeal against the attorney-general’s decision.
Between 2009 and 2014, 63 cases referred to the Operations Review Panel were recommended to be reinvestigated by the panel. Out of this 63, eight were brought to court, or the public prosecutor decided that there were merit for charges.
MACC special operations director Bahri Mohd Zin was earlier quoted by Malaysian news agency The Star as saying that MACC will most likely appeal against the attorney-general’s decision not to prosecute as it is a straight-forward case.
The strategic communications director of the MACC, Datuk Rohaizad Yaakob, issued a statement saying that referring a case to the Operations Review Panel is a standard procedure before any case is closed.
“The action of referring the PM’s case to this panel is a normal process and shouldn’t be interpreted as rejecting the decision of the Attorney-General. Also, MACC stresses that any statement made by any individuals is not the official stance of MACC.”
Last month, the MACC said it had sent two reports to the attorney-general’s office about its investigations into the transfer of money into Najib’s bank accounts and the affairs of state fund 1MDB.
The anti-corruption agency did not reveal its findings or say whether any wrongdoing was involved, saying any decision to take further action would be up to the attorney-general.
COUNTERING THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD?
Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, son of the late Yusof Rawa, said the donation from Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah could have been to help Najib win the 13th General Election to counter the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence.
Yusof Rawa was a former leader of Islamic opposition party PAS, and the first formal “Spiritual Leader” of the party. PAS shares similar beliefs and ideologies with the Muslim Brotherhood.
“Malaysia is considered a strong Sunni nation, moderate and has a strong affiliation to the Gulf states especially Saudi,” said Dr Muhahid, who is also the MP for Perak’s Parit Buntar.
“Maybe, based on that, the Saudi palace thinks that this could be one of the ways to stop the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood. The problem is King Abdullah is dead, there is no one to verify whether money was given to PM Najib.”
While it is anyone’s guess whether the US$681 million – of which US$620 million were later returned – indeed came from the late Saudi king , the Saudi government has been non-committal.
While officials appeared to be distancing themselves from the controversy involving the so-called gift from the royal Saudi family, other reports quoting sources within the royal family seem to suggest that it was not unusual for the late King Abdullah to offer donations to Muslim countries for the sake of ummah.
Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir, during a visit to Malaysia late October 2015, did not deny when asked whether his government donated money to Najib.
“Saudi and Malaysia are close allies and partners we work closely together on regional issues as well as international issues that affect Islamic world,” he said. “We coordinate our political position with regards to events in the Middle East and other places. This is something we do.” – CNA
Source from themalaysiantimes