MACC’s move to reveal audio recordings of former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak’s conversations has received much praise but not from lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla.
Bersatu supreme council members A Kadir Jasin and Rais Yatim have also raised concerns about the move.
In a strongly-worded statement today, Haniff (above) warned that making the recordings public could jeopardise the ongoing 1MDB-related trials, including those faced by Najib.
MACC ought to have immediately handed the clips to the police after receiving them rather than release them to the press, he added.
“This is as contents of the recordings, if they have any basis, reveal possible criminal acts listed in the Penal Code, not the MACC Act 2009.
“Evidence that needs to be further investigated by the police should not be revealed for public consumption, and especially not for the public to hear the contents of the conversations.
“This could jeopardise the investigation plus give a negative perception and impact to public understanding of the issue even before the investigation has begun, and definitely before it is completed,” he said.
Haniff, who has represented Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in past cases, accused the graft-busting agency of subverting the rule of law.
“The move to reveal the contents of the nine recordings to the public has subverted the rule of law, something that should not be done by any law enforcement agency like the MACC. Crimes and wrongdoing should not be brought to justice or punished by going behind the principle of the rule of law,” he remarked.
Bersatu’s Kadir (above), who is Mahathir’s special adviser on media and communication affairs, cautioned that the exposé could cost MACC its integrity if the recordings were not first verified.
“Don’t just expose it to make waves and to create a sensation. Investigations must be done and actions must be taken. Or else people will not believe it.
“MACC could lose its integrity and be accused of slander,” Kadir said in a public Facebook posting yesterday.
Like Haniff, Rais wondered why the MACC decided to make the recordings public and cautioned that they could affect the ongoing 1MDB trials.
“Some of the exposé (sic) in the MACC phone conversations audio could become substantive pieces of evidence in the presently ongoing 1MDB trial.
“Could it not be prejudicial in publicising it just now? Many of us who are basic practitioners think so. Of what purpose is this? We are not told,” Rais tweeted.
Yesterday, MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya said the agency had received the recordings from an anonymous source. The agency decided to make the recordings public after verifying them to be authentic as the issues involved were of public interest.
The clips will next be forwarded to the police for further action, she added.
Said to have taken place between January and July 2016, Najib was heard in one clip asking a United Arab Emirates prince for help to shield his stepson Riza Aziz from the US Department of Justice’s scrutiny of 1MDB.
Former MACC chief Dzulkifli Ahmad was also heard discussing the agency’s 1MDB investigation with Najib, his wife Rosmah Mansor and former Tabung Haji chairperson Abdul Azeez Rahim.
Rosmah declined to comment and is leaving the matter to her lawyers.