KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 13 — Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had hampered investigations into 1MDB back in 2016 as there was a change in the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) leadership at the time, an investigating officer told the High Court today.

MACC senior superintendent Nur Aida Arifin, the 49th prosecution witness in Najib’s trial over the misappropriation of over RM2 billion of 1MDB funds, said the appointment of Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad as the chief commissioner of the MACC then had effectively ended the investigation into Najib’s alleged misappropriation of funds.

The appointment of the MACC chief commissioner was and remains the prerogative of the prime minister.

“Najib as the prime minister did things that affected the investigations into this case. Tan Sri Abu Kassim stepped down for Dzulkifli on August 1, 2016. Following that the team investigating the SRC (International) and myself received instructions not to investigate this case nor the SRC case anymore.

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“I can’t recall who told us not to continue this case, but I did jot it down in my notes that there were instructions to halt investigations in this case,” she said.

When pressed by deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib to explain the connection to the cases, she said she interpreted the change in the commission’s leadership as a move to protect Najib from further investigation.

In today’s hearing, Aida identified and confirmed the voices in nine separate audio clips that were played in court today as belonging to Najib, his wife Datin Rosmah Mansor, Dzulkifli, former Tabung Haji chairman Datuk Seri Azeez Rahim, and ex-aide to Najib, Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin.

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The only voice she could not identify was that of UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed who could be heard in several of the audio clips talking to Najib.

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is escorted by Prison Department personnel into the courtroom for the 1MDB trial at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Complex in Kuala Lumpur February 13, 2024. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is escorted by Prison Department personnel into the courtroom for the 1MDB trial at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Complex in Kuala Lumpur February 13, 2024. — Picture by Hari Anggara

In the 1MDB trial, Najib is facing 25 charges over the alleged misappropriation of more than RM2.28 billion of 1MDB funds which were said to have entered his private bank accounts at AmBank. Najib has however claimed that these funds were donations to him from Saudi Arabia’s royalty.

Najib has claimed there were four letters from the Saudi Arabian Royal family that could prove the money in his private bank accounts were a donation.

When asked if she found any of the four letters from the Saudi royal family, Aida said she never saw any of the originals and only received copies provided by fugitive financier Low Taek Jho that could not be authenticated as a result.

Apart from that Aida also said neither Najib nor anyone under his instructions had made a police report or MACC report to investigate Low. Low has been accused of being the mastermind behind the 1MDB scandal.

Najib was represented by Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.