Witness: Abu Kassim replaced to shield Najib from 1MDB probe

KUALA LUMPUR: Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed was replaced as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption chief commissioner to protect Datuk Seri Najib Razak from being investigated and charged in connection with the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal in 2016, the High Court heard.

This was disclosed by MACC senior superintendent Nur Aida Arifin when verifying the content of an audio recording of a conversation between Najib, his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, and his former special officer Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin.

“As the then prime minister, Najib took several actions that had an impact on the investigation of the case. After Tan Sri Abu Kassim was replaced by Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad, I received instructions not to continue with the investigation,” she said.

However, when deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib asked her for the name of the person who gave her the instructions, the 49th prosecution witness said: “I don’t remember, but I did receive the instructions. I wrote it in my investigation diary.”

The court also heard an audio recording of a conversation between Najib and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala chief executive officer Khaldoon Al-Mubarak, where the witness stated that the discussion was about the production of a film by Najib’s stepson, Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz, using funds from 1MDB.

In question: Abu Kassim (above) was replaced as the MACC chief commissioner to protect Najib from being investigated, court hears.In question: Abu Kassim (above) was replaced as the MACC chief commissioner to protect Najib from being investigated, court hears.

In yesterday’s proceedings, nine audio recordings were played in court, allegedly involving Najib, Rosmah, and several high-profile individuals connected to the 1MDB investigation.

Among the voices identified by the witness were those of Dzulkifli, former Baling MP Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, Najib’s former private secretary Tan Sri Shukry Mohd Salleh, Amhari, United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Zayed Al Nahyan (who is now UAE president) and Khaldoon.

Nur Aida also said that Najib had never instructed authorities, including the police and the MACC, to investigate fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, even though Najib was aware of Jho Low playing significant roles in 1MDB despite not holding any official position in the company, reported Bernama.

“These roles include Jho Low’s involvement in several meetings with the 1MDB management and the conversation notes prepared by the businessman for the use of 1MDB management,” she said.

Based on her investigation, Nur Aida said she did not find any letters sent by Najib to the late King Abdullah Abdulaziz Al Saud or the Saudi Arabian government as a token of appreciation or gratitude for any donations, as alleged by the former prime minister.

“My investigation also revealed that companies alleged to have channelled donation funds from the Saudi Arabian government into Najib’s accounts, including Blackstone Real Estate and Tanore Finance Corporation, had no business dealings with 1MDB.

“There is also no evidence to suggest that the Saudi Arabian government had informed Najib that the donations would first enter these companies’ accounts before being channelled into Najib’s accounts,” she said.

Najib, 70, faces four charges, namely using his position to obtain bribes totalling RM2.3bil from 1MDB funds and 21 charges of money laundering involving the same amount.

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