Former ACA had recommended to Anwar Ibrahim that disciplinary action be taken against Azmin Ali
PUTRAJAYA (Jun,1): FORMER Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) director-general Datuk Shafee Yahaya said he had recommended to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim that disciplinary action be taken against his aide, Azmin Ali, following a 1995-97 probe into alleged corruption.
Anwar was then deputy prime minister and finance minister. He said the disciplinary action was one of three options in any corruption probe.
Explaining the grounds for disciplinary action, Shafee said: “If that person is a civil servant, and for example, if there are no elements of corruption, but there’s a situation where that person has considerable debts and lives beyond his means, then there will be disciplinary action.”
He said the probe had revealed that Azmin was deep in debt. Shafee maintained that the probe did not uncover “strong element of corruption” to warrant the first option prosecution.
Shafee denied making a judgment call that there was no case against Azmin and ordering that the case be closed. This is the third option in a corruption probe. “Where is the proof that I asked the IO (investigation officer) to stop his probe?,” he asked in an exclusive interview with the New Straits Times.
Meanwhile, highly placed sources told the NST that Azmin had been investigated for, among others, assets allegedly amassed with his wife, Shamsidar Taharin, including houses and cars totalling almost RM1.5 million, shares valued at hundreds of thousands of ringgit, and almost RM10 million in cash and cheques that went in and out of both their accounts that had been certified by the banks concerned.
The assets were allegedly acquired when Azmin served as Anwar’s private secretary. His pay then was RM2,442 a month. Shafee did not disclose if his recommendation to Anwar for disciplinary action was acted upon.
He was commenting on Raja Petra Kamaruddin’s posting on his news portal, Malaysia Today, which quoted a former MACC officer as saying that ACA, which he (Shafee) then helmed, had buried Azmin’s corruption file when Azmin could have been prosecuted.
Shafee yesterday challenged the whistleblower to come forward to help in MACC’s investigations. Justifying his call to merely recommend disciplinary action against Azmin, he said there was no strong element of corruption in the case.
On why the investigation paper (IP) was not referred to the Attorney-General’s Chambers, Shafee argued that it was the duty of his subordinate officer to inform the chambers, adding that it was impossible for the agency’s top bosses to monitor all cases and their details.
Meanwhile, investigators looking into the Azmin corruption case, in the light of fresh evidence, discovered that the Azmin file had vanished. Following an exhaustive two-year investigation, the file was marked “No Further Action” by ACA.
The term used was Kemas Untuk Simpan (KUS).
Police, who had followed the developments closely, were reportedly unhappy with the outcome of ACA’s investigations.
They felt that it was premature for ACA to declare the case NFA without even submitting the IP to the A-G’s Chambers and had applied to the chambers to investigate the decision to close the case. Prior to an overhaul of ACA in 1997 and 1998, the director-general had wide-reaching powers, including deciding whether or not to prosecute.
It was learnt that police had applied to the A-G’s Chambers for the ACA case file in 1997.
The NST was told by highly-placed sources that police had confirmed that Azmin’s file had been returned to the the A-G’s Chambers a long time ago, but added that any attempt by MACC investigators to acquire the file would be pointless because it was no longer in the A-G’s possession and nobody knew where it was now.
MACC had revived the case in 2009 when Anuar Shaari, who was Anwar’s private secretary, came forward with new information eerily similar to the contents of the missing file concerning Azmin’s case.
“It is perplexing that the information in the 1995 case file as well as exhibits attached in the investigation papers have made it to the public domain.
“There may be a link between the disappearance of the papers and its recent emergence.
“So the question now is, who took the papers between 1997 and 1998, and what reason they have to take it away,” the sources said.
Adding credence to the authenticity of the leaked documents, classified under the Official Secrets Act, was the fact that a police report was lodged by MACC yesterday for a breach of the act.
Online news portal Malaysia Today on Tuesday published an article “MACC ‘Deep Throat’ Comes out of the Closet”.
The article detailed how ACA had gathered enough evidence to arrest and prosecute Azmin for corruption, but under orders, allegedly from Anwar, the case was buried.
The task for the MACC team handling this case is now a daunting one, said the sources. For one, the break in the chain may adversely affect MACC in making its case in court.
The second factor is that the paper trail is extensive. The many bank mergers over the years would make checking and cross-checking bank records and verifying these documents an uphill task.
Anwar and Azmin did not immediately respond to the allegations.
However, Mohd Eekmal Ahmad, who is Anwar’s media co-ordinator, tweeted that Shafee had worked hard to relay the message to the director of investigation then, Datuk Nordin Ismail, to send the right file to the police.
Eekmal said on May 24, 1995 (at 5.30pm), Anwar, who was the finance minister then, was accused of interfering in MACC’s investigation on Azmin for allegedly acquiring excessive wealth.
He said it was only three years later, in 1998, that Anwar was charged with meddling in MACC’s investigation.
Azmin had, on Tuesday, described the allegation against him as mere slander.
He had tweeted: Persetankan mereka. Nabi Musa dan Nabi Yusuf juga difitnah. Saya manusia kerdil. Pohon kekuatan dari Allah SWT. (“Be damned to them. Even prophets Moses and Joseph have been vilified.
I am just a small person. Pray to Allah for strength.”)
Meanwhile, a non-governmental organisation has threatened to hold a demonstration in front of MACC’s office if it does not investigate the corruption allegation against Azmin in the next seven days.
Tolak Individu Bernama Anwar Ibrahim (Reject An Individual Named Anwar) leader Muhammad Zahid Md Arip had submitted a report to MACC yesterday.
“His (Azmin’s) wealth is not in correlation with his office and what he officially earned. “His wife (Shamsidar) also allegedly has more than RM7 million in her bank account.” -darisungaiderhaka