Lawyers accuse MACC of exceeding jurisdiction in Nazlan probe

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Lawyers have accused the MACC of exceeding its jurisdiction in its probe of judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.

Mohd Sahar Misni/The Star

This is after Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Minister Azalina Othman Said confirmed in a letter to Najib Abdul Razak’s lawyers that the MACC had found Nazlan in breach with the Judges’ Code of Ethics and had a conflict of interest while presiding on the SRC International case.

Former Malaysian Bar president Ambiga Sreenevasan said this was also a case of executive interference.

“This is, in my view, clear executive interference, exceeding of jurisdiction by MACC and a cunning plan to undermine the judiciary.

“All because some lawbreakers refuse to be held accountable. Is this acceptable to Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim?” she tweeted.

Earlier, Najib’s lawyers had confirmed that Azalina had sent them a letter affirming aspects of the MACC probe on Nazlan.

According to sources with knowledge of the matter, Najib’s counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah had written to Azalina asking her to confirm whether or not MACC had found Nazlan to be in a conflict of interest when presiding over the SRC International case.

He also wanted to know if MACC found Nazlan had violated the Judges’ Code of Ethics.

In her reply to Shafee dated March 20, Azalina stated that his “queries are answered in the affirmative”.

Muda vice-president Lim Wei Jiet – who is also a lawyer – said the MACC did not have any jurisdiction to make such findings.

“There is a very specific mechanism for this. A Judges’ Ethics Committee under the Judges’ Ethics Committee Act 2010 is the sole authority (to make such findings).

“Azalina should answer,” he said.

He added that this was as baffling as the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Communication (MCMC) making findings of wrongdoing under the MACC Act.

“It is completely without any authority or expertise to arrive at such a conclusion,” he said.

A MACC probe had been launched against the judge over allegations that linked Nazlan to 1MDB’s Tanjung Energy Holdings Sdn Bhd deal when he was part of Maybank.

On Feb 24, a bench led by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat ruled that the MACC’s probe on Nazlan had not followed protocol.

Tengku Maimun – who read out the ruling – said while the Federal Constitution empowers criminal investigation agencies such as MACC to investigate sitting judges as well as allow the public prosecutor to institute criminal court proceedings against such judges, those powers must be exercised in good faith and in genuine cases.

This is important, she said, to ensure the judiciary is able to carry out its functions freely and independently from external influence.

The bench also observed the “curious” timing of publicising the probe done before Najib’s SRC appeal before the Federal Court last year.

Nazlan, when he was a High Court judge in 2020, sentenced Najib to 12 years in prison and RM210 million for corruption, abuse of power, and money laundering. – Malaysiakini