KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 1 — Former Selangor mentri besar Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo’s corruption conviction will likely send shivers down the spines of those linked to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and RM2.6 billion controversies, veteran newsman Datuk A. Kadir Jasin said today.
The former New Straits Times group chief editor said despite Khir denying any wrongdoing, the prosecution still managed to prove otherwise beyond reasonable doubt, causing him to lose his appeal in the Federal Court this week.
“Whether he pleaded guilty or not, Khir’s link to corruption was proven. Political leaders can still be investigated, charged and found guilty under the law of the land,” Kadir wrote in his blog.
He said the decision will have a positive psychological effect on the public as it showed that nobody is above the law.
On the other hand, Khir’s conviction will have a “special and distinctive” meaning for both local and international probes on 1MDB and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, he added.
“There are a few similarities between Khir’s corruption case with the RM2.6 billion ‘donation’ that went into Najib’s personal accounts, specifically the political excuses and claims that the public will not lose anything,” said Kadir.
Kadir said while Khir had outright pleaded not guilty in his corruption case, Najib has remained mostly silent on the RM2.6 billion controversy, save for claiming that the funds came from donors in the Middle East.
Even the prime minister’s previous plan to sue Wall Street Journal (WSJ) over the issue, he noted, has been delayed.
“The jailing of Khir will surely increase the worries of those involved or linked to the 1MDB scandal and Najib’s personal account,” he added.
On Tuesday, the former Selangor mentri besar lost his final appeal against a corruption conviction and the apex court also maintained the forfeiture of the land that he had underpaid for back in 2007.
Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, who chaired the five-man panel, said among other things that public interest should always be the first and foremost consideration in sentencing.
In an article on July 2, WSJ, citing documents from Malaysian investigators scrutinising 1MDB’s financials, said a money trail showed that US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) had been channelled into what appeared to be the prime minister’s accounts.
The report said, however, that the source of the funds was unknown although it noted that it was the first time that Najib had been linked to the probe on the troubled state investor.
In August, Najib said he had been cleared of corruption claims linked to the RM2.6 billion deposit in his personal accounts and that he received it on behalf of his party and not for personal interests.