In an explosive interview aired on Al-Jazeera, Fairfax Group CEO Michael Hershman revealed that in 2015, then MACC chief Abu Kassim Mohamed had asked him to set up a meeting with the US Attorney’s Office in New York so that he could pass them 1MDB investigation papers.
According to Hershman, who heads the corporate risk management company, Abu Kassim was placed under surveillance and pressured to resign.
“In 2015, the MACC chief Abu Kassim was investigating the prime minister for money-laundering and misconduct and at that time, Abu Kassim told the attorney-general (Abdul Gani Patail) that the prime minister (Najib Abdul Razak) was a target of their investigation.
“When the AG confronted the PM, he was forced out of office and replaced by a friend of Najib’s,” claimed Hershman.
“At the same time Abu Kassim was placed under surveillance and pressured to resign from office.
“It was at that point that Abu, whom I have known for many years – he and I served together on an Interpol anti-corruption commission – he asked if I would pass on documents to the US Attorney’s Office in New York and arrange for a secret meeting with him so that he could be assured that an entity outside of Malaysia would continue this investigation.”
“I did provide that information. I did set up that meeting. Unfortunately, as a result, he was faced with charges of treason (sic),” Hershman told Al-Jazeera who were reporting on the recent sensational recordings released by current MACC chief Latheefa Koya.
It should be noted that no such charges were brought against Abu Kassim who was replaced as MACC chief on Aug 1, 2016 by Dzulkifli Ahmad.
Dzukifli is one of the individuals whose voice was heard on audio recordings released by the MACC of several telephone conversations involving Najib with regard to the 1MDB scandal.
Others included conversations between Najib and high-ranking individuals from the United Arab Emirates, concerning the US Department of Justice’s 1MDB civil forfeiture suits and funds channelled to the former premier’s stepson Riza Aziz.
There was also a recording of a conversation between Najib and his irate wife Rosmah Mansor.
Commenting on the recordings themselves, Hershman called them extraordinary.
“It is extraordinary, and it came out of left field. The trial is ongoing in Malaysia, many documents have been entered into evidence, witnesses called. and statements made.
“But no one expected to uncover this sort of taped conversations between the highest government officials in two jurisdictions.”
“We don’t know who made them, whether it’s intelligence services or a source from the UAE, but regardless of the admissibility, this cover-up is a model of what not to do,” said Hershman.
He called the 1MDB scandal one of the largest thefts in the history of governmental corruption, saying that while it remains to be seen whether he (Najib) will be found guilty, but he saw the evidence as overwhelming.
In Sept 2015, Hershman in his capacity as an International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) council member had urged Najib to come clean on the RM2.6 billion donation that he received.
Hershman said then that the truth would eventually emerge and any attempt at a cover-up would not work.
“My advice to the Malaysian prime minister would be not to cover up, not to obstruct justice because it doesn’t work.
“Tell the truth. Where did the money come from? What was its intended use and if he did something wrong, ask for forgiveness and face the consequences,” he said. – Malaysiakini