Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commissioner (MACC) chief commissioner Azam Baki’s share trading controversy has pushed the commission into its worst confidence crisis.
This is not about Azam himself but involves the question of how the agency is going to survive the damage done to its integrity and ability to act independently, fairly and swiftly.
To date, the agency seems to be not measuring up well as in defence, the commissioner is taking the whistleblower to task on defamation which is not the right thing to do and many quarters are calling Azam to go on leave or resign in the wake of the controversy.
Coming out in the open on Wednesday (05 Jan), Azam denied committing any wrong or that there was a conflict of interest on his part.
“I explained to the board (the MACC’s anti-corruption advisory board) that my trading account was used by my brother for his shares trading and I have no interest nor have any part in this. The shares were bought in the open market and my brother had financed the purchases on his own,” Azam defended.
Azam’s answer raises an important question here on why did his younger brother Nasir Baki has to use his account when he already has his own personal account, and more importantly the source of the funds.
The MACC chief has yet to answer this question.
Breached Stock Ownership
After a series of police reports lodged the next day by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) lawmakers, Malaysian Home Affairs Minister Hamzah Zainuddin said police will open up investigation papers to confirm if Azam had breached stock ownership laws when he let his brother use his share trading account.
There is more than meets the eye here in this share trading controversy.
Let us start with DAP’s Lim Kit Siang and Gobind Singh Deo.
Not to be surprised, the pressure comes from Kit Siang and Gobind who demand the Parliamentary Special Select Committee on Agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department to invite non-governmental organisations concerned about the issue, be it Bersih, the Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism, Transparency International Malaysia, Rasuah Busters or SUARAM, to send representatives to participate in the committee’s hearing on the conflict-of-interest allegations against the MACC chief.
As usual, this has also raised eyebrows by many as if this DAP duo has an interest in discrediting Azam on his integrity as the latter was the man behind dragging DAP’s secretary-general Lim Guan Eng to face the graft trial on the infamous Penang undersea tunnel scandal.
Gobind is the defence counsel for the corruption court case.
It is an open secret that Kit Siang is not happy with Azam because this undersea tunnel case was swept under the carpet during PH rule and Azam brought it up when he was made the MACC chief.
Azam was not the MACC head during the PH regime.
Perhaps Kit Siang thinks by getting rid of Azam, someone else will take over and his son will stand a better chance to get acquitted from this court case.
Remember how Guan Eng’s trial on the purchase of his no 25, Pinghon Road bungalow in Penang was thrown out?
So, Kit Siang is going all out to tarnish Azam on this controversy just to let out his frustrations and anger, nothing more than that.
If Kit Siang is really against corruption, he would have spoken up when former Malaysian Central Bank (BNM) Governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz’s family was accused of receiving funds from fugitive businessman Jho Teik Low or better known as Jho Low by the Singapore authorities.
Kit Siang who preferred to maintain his silence on Zeti’s issue shows his level of hypocrisy, one should not take Kit Siang seriously when he talks about corruption.
On another note, a MACC insider has revealed that Azam was hot on the pursuit to get documented evidence from the US Department of Justice (DoJ) related to the filing of criminal charges against two former Goldman Sachs bankers, Timothy Leissner and Roger Ng in 2018.
Previously, Goldman Sachs and one of their officials pleaded guilty in the US and also settled for USD2.9 billion (RM12b) and admitted that they have bribed officials in 1MDB and the Malaysian government.
1MDB-Goldman Sachs Settlement
It was also reported on 19 Nov 2020 that Goldman Sachs reached an agreement with the Malaysian government to return USD1.4 billion (RM5.97 billion) but unfortunately, Putrajaya declined to disclose the full terms of the 1MDB-Goldman Sachs settlement, citing a confidentiality clause arrived at in the agreement inked between Malaysia and the US-based investment bank.
Meanwhile, former prime minister Najib Razak who is facing a series of corruption trials linked to 1MBD, in February 2021, made a court filing in New York, seeking permission to obtain documents and testimony from investment bank Goldman Sachs to help in his defence.
Although Najib won in his bid to obtain the said documents which could prove his innocence, DoJ intervened at the eleventh hour with a stay order from another court preventing Najib’s lawyers from receiving the records.
Najib, on 27 Oct last year, filed a report with the MACC in a bid to compel the government to extradite former Leissner and said the aim was to acquire documents that could provide evidence of his alleged false implication in the 1MDB scandal.
He explained further saying the MACC report was made against Leissner so that the latter may be asked in court to divulge the identities of Malaysians that the former banker had allegedly bribed or documents revealing their names, and for appropriate legal action to then be taken against them.
The MACC insider said Azam was “serious” about getting these documents although it irked some people and was close to getting it using his network.
This makes sense as if MACC obtains these documents, there are chances it might open cans of worms which might implicate a lot of people.
Azam is also scheduled to take his witness stand on the 1MDB trial.
Imagine, Azam taking the stand with the list of names who received bribes from Goldman Sachs but Najib’s name is not on it? What will happen?
There are a lot of chances Najib walks out free and yes, many will not be happy if Najib walks out free.
So, there might be many hidden hands behind this controversy who wants Azam to go for good and whoever chosen to replace him, should not open the pandora box.
But the reasons above does not justify or clear Azam on any wrongdoing.
As two wrongs don’t make a right, the controversial tainted MACC chief still has to answer to the Security Commission as the body has said there are elements of wrongdoing. – New Malaysia Herald