Saturday 22 Jun 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 4): The chief commissioner of Malaysia’s anti-graft agency, Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed, might be replaced for health reasons, a source said, just as he handed over to the attorney-general investigation papers on the RM2.6 billion donation to the prime minister and on the Finance Ministry’s SRC International.

The source said talk was rife within the Prime Minister’s Office and among the senior echelon in the police force that a senior police officer or a deputy public prosecutor from the Attorney-General’s Chambers could be Abu Kassim’s replacement to helm the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

“Abu Kassim’s health condition is being used as an excuse in an attempt to replace him,” the source told The Malaysian Insider, but refused to be named because of the sensitivity of the information.

Abu Kassim underwent surgery on Aug 7 to remedy a back problem and reported back to duty in the middle of October.

August saw several MACC officers targeted by the police for investigations into supposed information leaks pertaining to probes into financial scandals allegedly involving Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

This followed the emergence of a purported charge sheet against Najib drawn up by the MACC leaked to whistle-blower website Sarawak Report.

Special Branch officers raided the office of an MACC prosecutor, Ahmad Sazilee Abdul Khairy, taking documents related to probes into 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), the state-owned investment firm that is Najib’s brainchild.

Prior to that, MACC adviser Tan Sri Rashpal Singh and Jessica Gurmit Kaur, an officer with the AGC, were detained for questioning over alleged information leaks.

Seven MACC officers were also quizzed over the same matter, and two other officers were then abruptly transferred after they criticised the police’s questioning of their colleagues.

The source said replacing Abu Kassim with a police officer to head the MACC would worsen morale and only strengthen negative public perceptions about the agency’s independence.

Abu Kassim, who joined the Anti-Corruption Agency in 1984, which was renamed MACC in 2010, was appointed chief commissioner in January that year.

In a recent interview with Malay daily Sinar Harian, Abu Kassim said his contract was to expire in 2018 but he expected to remain in office until 2020 when he reached 60, the mandatory retirement age for civil servants.

Under the MACC Act, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong appoints the MACC chief on the advice of the prime minister for a period and on terms and conditions specified in the appointment letter.

Abu Kassim has maintained that MACC’s investigations into the RM2.6 billion as well as into SRC International have been independent.

He described them as the two most challenging cases of his career, and praised the investigation team for carrying out their duties as best and as professionally as possible.

The Wall Street Journal in early July last year reported the transfer of RM2.6 billion into Najib’s personal accounts and MACC subsequently said the money was a donation from a Middle Eastern benefactor, but did not elaborate on the purpose of the funds or where the money had gone.

On Dec 31, MACC deputy commissioner Datuk Seri Mohd Shukri Abdull said in a press statement that the agency had handed over investigations papers on the donation and on SRC International, after interviews with more than 100 people, including the donor of the RM2.6 billion.

MACC has been investigating SRC International over a RM4 billion fund, and not Najib’s brainchild 1MDB, the agency has clarified in the past.

The RM2.6 billion was also a separate probe, but Shukri on Dec 31 said it was still not completed as only witnesses in Malaysia have been interviewed.

He said MACC has yet to obtain documents and statements involving overseas financial transactions and it was seeking the A-G’s help to get these through mutual legal assistance (MLA).

Najib, who is also the finance minister, has denied that the RM2.6 billion in his personal bank accounts was from 1MDB, nor was the money for his personal gain.

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