Bar Council mulls suing PM over alleged obstruction of 1MDB probe

Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru highlighted the suspension of the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) investigation on the state investment fund as well as the removal of Tan Sri Gani Patail as Attorney-General and of top Special Branch officers. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru highlighted the suspension of the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) investigation on the state investment fund as well as the removal of Tan Sri Gani Patail as Attorney-General and of top Special Branch officers. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 12 — The Bar Council said today that it is considering suing Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for allegedly interfering with the investigations on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and the controversial RM2.6 billion donation deposited in his accounts.

Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru highlighted the suspension of the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) investigation on the state investment fund as well as the removal of Tan Sri Gani Patail as Attorney-General and of top Special Branch officers.

“He’s definitely a possible defendant, looking at the way things have been going over the past two months,” Steven told a press conference after the Malaysian Bar’s extraordinary general meeting (EGM) that discussed the purported interference with the 1MDB investigations.

The head of the legal professionals body based in peninsular Malaysia said the lawsuit against government officers who obstructed the administration of justice would be a “tort of misfeasance” in public office, or the abuse of power. A tort is defined as a civil wrong.

The reliefs that the Bar Council would seek are a court declaration that the public officers have abused their power to subvert the administration of justice as well as court orders to restrain them from interfering with investigations, said Steven.

“Public officers should not interfere with investigations that concern them,” the lawyer said.

Steven also stressed that the Malaysian Bar was not deciding on whether Najib was guilty of the allegations against him, but that the legal body was concerned about the purported obstruction of investigations.

“We have to uphold and restore the rule of law,” he said.

Steven added that the Bar Council was currently looking at which civil servants they would sue and said the lawsuit would be filed as soon as possible.

The Malaysian Bar voted earlier today at its EGM to give a mandate to the Bar Council to initiate legal action over the purported obstruction of 1MDB investigations, besides calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to investigate alleged financial impropriety involving 1MDB, the RM2.6 billion transfer, as well as the flow of RM42 million from former 1MDB subsidiary, SRC International, into Najib’s personal bank accounts.

In a Cabinet reshuffle last month, four PAC members were appointed to government, causing the parliamentary committee’s 1MDB investigation to be suspended, while 1MDB critics Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal were dropped as ministers.

A special task force comprising the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Bank Negara and the police, which had been investigating the purported deposits into Najib’s accounts, was also disbanded after Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail’s removal, even as senior MACC and Bank Negara officers were questioned by the police on suspicion of leaking government documents.

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