Last Wednesday (Jan 8), the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) released nine audio recordings involving the nation’s former premier Najib Razak.
MACC Chief Commissioner Latheefa Koya denounced the recordings as a “criminal conspiracy at the highest level.”
The conversations in the 45-minute audio recordings took place between Jan 5, 2016, and Jul 29, 2016.
Around the same period, the United States’ Justice Department launched its anti-graft probe into the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) sovereign fund.
In one recording, Rosmah Mansor, Najib’s wife, admonished her husband to “take control” of the 1MDB scandal.
Among other individuals that MACC identified in the audio recordings were the commission’s former chief Dzulkifli Ahmad, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Zayed Al Nahyan, and former Tabung Haji chairman Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim.
Branding the contents of the recordings as “shocking,” Latheefa said that they are “a cover-up and subversion of justice.”
She added: “This is of public interest and affects national security. From our expertise, we can see it has elements of power abuse, fabrication of evidence, and leaking of information protected under the Official Secrets Act.”
While Latheefa could not comment on how the MACC got the recordings, she said that her team of forensic experts could “confirm their absolute authenticity.”
She noted that the audio recordings would be given to the police, as most of the offenses about the recordings fall under the Malaysian Penal Code.
However, Najib’s counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said that the MACC chief commissioner—who was a practicing civil rights lawyer before her appointment—should have known that releasing information related to an ongoing trial is against the law.
“Releasing the tapes now and discussing in public in a media release is, in fact, sub judice, and is, in fact, a contempt (of the court).
“As a lawyer, [Latheefa] should know that this is not just merely bordering contempt—it is contemptuous, now, was MACC trying to influence and sub judice the ongoing trials?” Shafee questioned.
On Monday (Jan 13), Shafee confirmed that Najib would start contempt of court action against MACC and Latheefa over the exposure of the audio recordings.
On Tuesday (Jan 14), MACC lodged a police report against individuals whom they claim have plotted to tarnish Latheefa’s reputation.
The Royal Malaysia Police said they would scrutinize the report before taking further action.
Latheefa Koya, chief commissioner of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). Picture credit: The Star Online