KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – The eyes of Malaysian anti-graft agent Mohd Shukri Abdull were filled with tears on Tuesday when he recalled the death threats and how he was described as a traitor, while nearby, the officers took a statement of the main target of his research, former Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Addressing a press conference in the headquarters of the anti-Semites of Malaysia The Commission of Corruption (MACC), the head of the bald and lightly constituted agency, was experiencing a cathartic moment, as much of the country since the surprise defeat of Najib in the general elections of the May 9.
Shukri was restored to the agency by the new government this week.
Three years ago, I was a principal investigator for MACC in a team that tracked billions of dollars diverted from the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) state fund.
Najib has consistently denied misdeeds in 1MDB after the scandal broke out in mid-2015 for the first time after a series of media reports.
But Shukri described in dramatic detail how the MACC investigation was repressed.
"Our witnesses disappeared, some of those who were interviewed were taken by different authorities and questioned about what they told MACC, and I myself was threatened with being fired, I was asked to leave early, retire early and transfer me to training. "
Before investigators could press charges, Shukri said the then prime minister fired Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail and Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Ybadin, who was ready to ask Najib to be dismissed from office. office.
Shukri said he met Gani Patail the day before his dismissal.
"He asked me:" Are you ready? ", Said Shukri.
"As a principal investigator, I knew what he meant," he said, explaining that the attorney general was ready to prosecute the prime minister.
Shukri said that they met with several ministers to try to convince them that the corruption cases against Najib were genuine, but only Muhyiddin and two others were ready to take a stand.
"We wanted to return stolen money to our country, instead we were accused of tearing down the country, we were accused of being traitors," Shukri said, struggling to contain the tears.
The new attorney general, Mohamed Apandi Ali, then exonerated Najib of all misdeeds, after the prime minister explained that $ 680 million deposited in his bank account had been a donation from a Saudi royal.
BACK TO WORK
With the investigation stopped short, the agency was purged and Shukri said that he and his colleagues went through frightening moments.
"They sent a bullet to my house," Shukri said.
"I never told my wife or my family, I did not even do a police report."
He also recalled receiving police protection during his visit to the United States, as he feared that Malaysian security agents would harbad him.
After 32 years with the agency, Shukri opted to retire in 2016, as did the then head of the MACC, Abu Kbadim Mohammed, who had asked him to join the investigation, knowing that he would face the prime minister.
The new prime minister, 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad, who left his retirement and joined the opposition to overthrow his former protege, appointed Abu Kbadim as head of a task force charged with recovering lost money.
Back at the MACC, Shukri has resumed where the 2015 investigation was, focusing on transfers of 42 million ringgit ($ 10.6 million) to Najib's bank account.
The MACC tracked transfers made through "front companies" to SRC International, a unit of 1MDB until it was moved to the Ministry of Finance in 2012.
Najib, convened by Shukri to give his statement on those transfers , he came to MACC on Tuesday.
He left four hours later, telling reporters that he had amplified in a statement given in 2015, providing additional documents. He said he would return to the agency on Thursday to complete his statement.
While the sums were a fraction of the billions that were missing from 1MDB, they were the easiest to track for MACC since the transfers involved national companies and institutions.
Shukri acknowledged the concern he felt at receiving the opportunity to return to the search for answers.
"The case of 1MDB and SRC was scary, I almost died investigating this case, so I was afraid to go back," he said.
Written by Praveen Menon and Simon Cameron-Moore; Edition by Robert Birsel