Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Chief Latheefa Koya came out proverbial guns a-blazin’ at a press conference today, letting the tea spill in spectacular fashion on just how deep the (alleged!) graft ran in the administration of ex-PM Najib Razak. Well, happy Wednesday to you too, Lat!
Latheefa played for a scrum of reporters some 45 minutes of recordings of phone calls between Najib, his wife, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Umno MP Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim (you know, the guy accused of pilfering money from the Haj fund reserved for the poor), and several other foreign dignitaries, and some of the conversations will have even the most jaded Malaysian political observer blushing.
“The contents are shocking; it’s a cover-up and subversion of justice,” the anti-graft chief said of the nine sets of audio clips. “In the public interest, we’re making public the contents.”
*Grabs hot cuppa tea; clicks play.
Latheefa declined to explain how the MACC came into possession of such a trove of recordings, but maintained their “absolute” authenticity. The recordings, she said, were made between Jan. 5 and July 29, 2016, just as the U.S. Justice Department began to step up its investigations into the 1MDB financial scandal.
In one of the clips, the former PM’s wife, Rosmah Mansor, can be heard shouting at her husband over the handling of the 1MDB scandal following revelations from U.S. authorities.
“Many will get hurt,” Najib agreed, referring to the fallout.
Indeed, the power dynamics exposed in the recordings between Najib and his Hérmès-loving wife were just as captivating to some as the evidence of widespread corruption, with Rosmah coming across as near-omnipotent in the amount of influence she exerted over the leader.
“Rosmah told Najib what to do… and he agreed to it all,” said one commenter, who posited the former first lady was “the actual PM.”
“Rosmah yelling ‘Can I advise you something’ to Najib is my vibes for 2020,” another bemusedly noted.
Rosmah yelling “Can I advise you something” to Najib is my vibes for 2020 https://t.co/zN8hk0KRM9
— azlyn balqis (@lynfunkstar) January 8, 2020
Another clip, meanwhile, captured what can only be described as a panicked Najib pleading with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed Zayed Al-Nahyan to help clear up money laundering accusations leveled at the PM’s movie producer stepson, Riza Aziz. Asking if an agreement can be signed “immediately,” Najib said he wanted the UAE royal on board so “it can appear as a legitimate loan agreement.”
“He is innocent,” Najib tells the prince. “He just wants to make a movie.”
What movie? Oh, you know, just The Wolf of Wall Street — that one about theft, greed, and the downfall of high-flying white collar criminals.
Huh, feels kinda fitting.
Seemingly forecasting his own troubles to come, the former PM pleads with the royal: “This is very catastrophic,” he said. “[It] can lead to catastroph[y]… in my government and your side.”
Ain’t that the truth.
In response to the explosive recordings, Najib, who is currently on trial for over 40 graft-related charges, said today that he was “shocked by this revelation.”
“I will look into what could be done legally. During that time, I was the head of government,” he told media outside the Kuala Lumpur High Court.
However, the disgraced statesman stopped short of denying the conversations took place, instead merely saying that he “hadn’t checked.”
Mmmmkaaayyyy. Well, you get back to us on that one, sir.