Shafee accuses MACC of wiretapping his client

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on March 10, 2020.
Shafee accuses MACC of wiretapping his client
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KUALA LUMPUR: Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah has accused the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) of illegally wiretapping his client for almost a year.

Speaking after the SRC International Sdn Bhd trial proceedings ended, Muhammad Shafee alleged when the MACC wiretapped Najib, it ignored due process and did not follow the adequate approval processes. This concerned the audio recordings released by the commission in January of phone conversations implicating Najib, his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and other senior civil servants in schemes to cover up the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and SRC scandals.

According to Muhammad Shafee, four entities are allowed to conduct wiretapping in the country, including the MACC; however, they must firstly get the Attorney-General’s Chambers’ consent. During the trial, former attorney-general (AG) Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali testified that when these conversations took place, the MACC did not seek his permission to wiretap Najib’s conversations.

“No. The MACC did not ask me for permission to wiretap. I never had any knowledge of these so-called audio recordings,” he said.

Mohamed Apandi was the AG from July 27, 2015 to June 4, 2018. He replaced Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail who held the post from January 2002.

The commission said the conversations in the clips took place between Jan 5, 2016 and July 29, 2016.

“During his (Mohamed Apandi) tenure of office until 2018, not a single MACC commissioner asked him for permission to do wiretapping. Which means the MACC did this illegally ... They wiretapped him (Najib) for the whole year and selected these nine recordings to release them. They did it without authority,” he alleged.

“The MACC are the culprits, I want them to sue me. I invite them to sue me,” he said, adding that the MACC had a special interest in this case. Muhammad Shafee also attacked former MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya by calling her a political appointee. “The fact that she resigned says a lot,” Muhammad Shafee said.

In a statement announcing her resignation last Friday, Latheefa said she was quitting her post to resume human rights advocacy work and denied being pressured to quit.

During proceedings, Latheefa and Muhammad Shafee squared off again, culminating in the latter becoming irate and suddenly ending the examination in-chief of his witness, declaring “I am done with this witness” after she refused to answer his questions about efforts to recover RM4 billion loaned by Retirement Fund Incorporated to SRC currently stuck at a bank in Switzerland.

“We have the attorney-general (Tan Sri Tommy Thomas, who resigned at end-February) who made a bold statement at the beginning of the trial about the money in Switzerland, but she’s not answering. I’m done,” said an irate Muhammad Shafee.

Latheefa, a subpoenaed defence witness, challenged Muhammad Shafee’s line of questioning, refusing to provide answers as she claimed it would hinder ongoing MACC investigations. 

She contended that she was only called to be the defence witness to testify on the nine audio recordings of conversations revolving 1MDB investigations in 2016. “Am I being cross-examined or being questioned on the audio recordings? That was what I was told,” she asked.