Attorney-General (A-G) Tommy Thomas sought to assuage concerns over the pace of investigations on the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption scandal by noting that the probe was done independently of his office.
He said Malaysia’s legal system was inherited from the British and clearly demarcated the responsibilities for investigations and prosecution.
Thomas added that while this required more time, it was better for both accountability and transparency.
“We do not want one agency to investigate and prosecute because that would be too powerful.
“The division makes good sense for check and balance,” he said during a special session with selected participants at the International Malaysia Law Conference 2018 today.
He also added that the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) must wait for investigation papers to be submitted before it can begin its tasks, saying his agency only has this for the case of SRC International Sdn Bhd at the moment.
“I am reluctant to disturb the other agencies involved in the investigation by asking them to speed up their probes because I do not have the power to do so.
“You must understand the division of power…it did not happen overnight,” he said.
He added the functions of the AGC as public prosecutor had no power over investigations conducted by law enforcement agencies such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the police.
Thomas’s remarks come after Malaysian Bar president George Varughese posed a question saying the public was getting restless as no prosecution was forthcoming in relation to the 1MDB case.
A source familiar with the MACC investigation into 1MDB has called for patience from the public over the probe as the anti-graft officers need more time to collect evidence overseas, FMT reported.
The source said MACC officers had just returned from the US and Singapore, and now needed to travel to other foreign jurisdictions to record statements from potential witnesses.
This was because 1MDB-related funds had been transferred to a number of financial institutions.
“The public must be patient with the MACC investigation as the A-G only issued the mutual legal assistance (MLA) two months ago.”
The source told the news portal that MACC’s investigation had been scuttled by the previous A-G, Mohamed Apandi Ali, whom it said refused to issue the MLA. The MLA would have allowed MACC investigators to travel abroad to collect evidence from overseas financial institutions.
“After the new A-G Tommy Thomas issued the MLA, we had logistics issues to handle. We have to liaise with authorities in the countries we will be going to, and this takes time,” the source was quoted as saying.
Thomas also said the public will be duly informed should there be any development in the 1MDB investigations.
“The moment the other 1MDB investigation papers arrive, I will issue a press statement,” he said.