PUTRAJAYA, Jan 8 ― Back in 2016, Datuk Seri Najib Razak had called the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed Zayed Al-Nahyan and pleaded for help with money laundering accusations faced by his Hollywood filmmaker stepson Riza Aziz at the height of the 1MDB financial scandal, according to tapes of the conversation released by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) today.
Najib who was then prime minister sounded frantic in the audio recordings as he sought to clear Riza’s name.
The tapes also contained conversations between Najib and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor who sounded angry as she instructed her husband on how to deal with the fallout from the 1MDB accusations by the US Department of Justice (DoJ).
Other conversations recorded were between Mubadala Development Company (MDC) chief executive Khaldoon Al Mubarak and Najib’s special officer Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin.
MACC chief Latheefa Koya told a press conference after releasing the tapes that the recordings were authentic and showed conspiracy at the highest level of government.
Below are some excerpts from the tapes played that lasted 45 minutes:
July 22, 2016, 8.54pm (Conversation between Najib and the Crown Prince)
Crown Prince: Mr prime minister, how are you and how is your family there?
Najib: I’m delighted to speak to you and of course we are experiencing dark cloud, by the announcement of DoJ. That’s why your Highness it is important for us to resolve this to the impasse with the 1MDB soon. It is embarrassing us, Malaysia and the UAE as well as personalities close to you. I wish we can find a solution as soon as possible. Difficult to talk over the phone, possible to meet as soon as possible?
Crown Prince: It’s fine by me but I will be travelling for medical check-up for five days. I can get someone to come to you and talk about it.
*Conversation continues on planning where to meet among suggestions of Najib to fly over to Abu Dhabi*
July 22, 2016, 11.33pm (Conversation between Najib and the Crown Prince)
Crown Prince: Mr prime minister I’m sorry I was late. I’ve consulted with my guys and I really don’t want to push this anymore. This is of mutual interest. I don’t think you should fly over, people will know about it. I will tell my person to come there. He is in California, I will call him now and he can come.
Najib: *sounding stressed and stuttering* Your highness I have a personal request. My son Riza Aziz, related to his movie production in America… if there can be an agreement with Sheikh Mansour signed, so that it can show it was legitimate instead money laundering. At the moment he’s under pressure in America. I’m worried if they make him a scapegoat.
I hope the agreement can be signed immediately with Sheikh Mansour so that it can appear as a legitimate loan agreement. When he (Riza) received it, the bank cleared the source of money, I don’t want him to be a victim when he doesn’t know and genuinely think its from Sheikh Mansour. I need that agreement to be sorted out quickly.
Crown Prince: I promise you, I will do it now and I believe he is your son.
Najib: Yes he is innocent. He just wants to make a movie. Now they want to connect with him with 1MDB, but time is essence my honour. We cannot leave it for a day. We don’t want DoJ to figure.
Crown Prince: I want to finish this, I will help.
Najib: This is very catastrophic. Can lead to catastrophic in my government and your side. This is not impossible. It’s within our means to resolve it.
July 23, 2016, 2.49am (Conversation between Najib and Khaldoon)
Khaldoon: I’ve spoken to Rizal, we meet tomorrow. I think better we meet alone. I need a sit down for me understand directly what to be done. I don’t want him to bring a lawyer.
July 27, 2016, 12.46am (Conversation between Najib and Rosmah)
Rosmah: Maybe Khaldoon should come here with Amhari. Invite him and sort it out once for all... he’s eaten with us... call them to sit down. We can sort out Riza. A lot of things can be resolved.
Najib: I will suggest to Amhari.
At press time, Latheefa said the MACC will be handing over the full 50-minutes recording to the police for further investigations.
“Yes, we will hand over to the police now,” she said.