Customs Officers ‘Retaliated’ Against Najib, Sparked ‘Diamond Ring’ Saga

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Disgruntled Royal Malaysian Customs Department officers allegedly leaked information on the transit of a diamond ring worth RM24 million in 2011 to damage then prime minister Najib Abdul Razak’s reputation.

This allegation was made by former Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief Abu Kassim Mohamed in a speech delivered later that year and which has now made its way on YouTube.

During the speech, Abu Kassim said the errant officers had leaked a document known as ‘Borang Kastam 1’ which showed the item entering the country while withholding ‘Borang Kastam 2’ which showed the item leaving the country.

“During our course of the investigation, there were both forms. But only Borang Kastam 1 was leaked, the intention was to exact revenge on the prime minister for allowing MACC to take stern action against the customs department,” said Abu Kassim.

At the time, the MACC was probing 62 customs officers for money laundering in what was known as “Operasi 3B”.

In the video, Abu Kassim was heard telling his audience, believed to be MACC officers, that the disgruntled custom officers, through its union, had met him and then attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail to persuade them to drop the charges against their colleagues.

When this failed, the disgruntled custom officers allegedly tried to meet Najib, who refused to see them.

“I was the one who told (Najib) not to meet them because we want to protect our integrity and our decision (to commence ‘Operasi 3B’),” he said, adding that the leak was a form of “retaliation” against Najib.

Lim Huey Teng/Malaysiakini

“No one in the country would have known (about the ring) had it not been a customs officer took a photograph (of the computer screen) and leaked it to others.”

Abu Kassim said that a ring of such value can’t be bought at a regular shop.

“When you want to buy an RM24,000 ring, we go to Poh Kong or Habib. When you buy an RM24 million ring, Habib comes to you.”

If Abu Kassim’s claims were true, it would corroborate Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor and US jeweller Jacob & Co’s claims that the ring brought in on April 2011 was for viewing only.

Rosmah has never denied the ring’s existence, but said criticisms, such as the ones laid by PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli, were based on “half-truths”.

Jacob & Co said that the 30.11-carat Natural Fancy Blue Grade Cushion Diamond Ring was in fact for the viewing of Maira Nazarbayev, the mother of Daniyar Nazarbayev who was engaged to Rosmah’s daughter Nooryana Najwan at the time. The couple wed in 2014.

Meanwhile, a former government official who attended the function where Abu Kassim spoke confirmed that the video was authentic and that the speech was made to MACC officers.

“It was true what he said. That was what the IO (investigating officer) found,” said the source.

The source added that the speech was made long before investigations on the 1MDB affair began.

“At the time, there was no corruption case involving the diamond as it had already been returned to the jeweller.

“When he (Abu Kassim) knew the truth about 1MDB after being shown by US Department Department of Justice and FBI evidence in (the) 1MDB case, he wanted to pursue the case. But at that time, the situation was not conducive and that was why he asked for early retirement in 2016,” said the source.

Abu Kassim was once part of the special task force on 1MDB which was headed by Abdul Gani. The task force had investigated 1MDB for a slew of offences but it was disbanded by the Najib administration in 2015.

Following this, Abu Kassim retired from the MACC.

Following the fall of the Najib administration, the new Pakatan Harapan administration has appointed him to a new task force to probe 1MDB. – Malaysiakini