Monday, April 19, 2021

Saudi prince claim immunity during 1MDB money-laundering probe


The High Court was told that a Saudi prince did not sign a statement to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) during the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) investigation because he had “immunity”.

The statement by Prince Saud Abdulaziz, who was said to be behind letters claiming a RM2.6 billion (S$900 million) donation to former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, was signed by his lawyer Muhammad Abdullah Al Koman instead.

Senior Asst Comm Fikri Ab Rahim, 45, said this during an examination-in-chief by lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah at the SRC International trial here yesterday.

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Shafee: Why didn’t the prince himself sign?

Fikri: They say they have immunity. We could not record their statements as we pleased.

The witness, who was heading the money laundering department during the 1MDB investigation in 2015, was recalling a work trip to Riyadh with several other officers – Mohd Nasharudin Amir, Mohd Hafaz Nazar, former MACC chief commissioner Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad and deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Seri Azam Baki.

The trip in November 2015 was to obtain the prince’s statement on four letters regarding the RM2.6 billion donation.

During the meeting, Fikri said they informed the royals of MACC’s intention to verify the letters purportedly issued by Prince Saud and asked for the prince’s co-operation to show them his identification before the interview started.

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Two other royals, known as Prince Turki and Prince Faisal, were also present.

“Azam initiated the talk. We were allowed to look at his (Prince Saud’s) identification but could not photocopy it because he has immunity, ” he said.

Fikri said there were protocols to adhere to with the royal family, rendering them to be cautious in their conduct.

The officers could not simply ask questions directly to the prince or be near him.

Fikri noted that Eric Tan, an associate of fugitive financier Low Taek Jho – also known as Jho Low – was also present during the meeting and appeared to be able to speak to the prince directly.

“It seemed that he was used to the palace (where the meeting took place). We were quite cautious and worried, but he looked at ease compared to us, ” Fikri added.

Najib is facing seven charges – three for criminal breach of trust, one for abuse of power and three for money laundering involving SRC International funds totalling RM42 million.

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The hearing continues before Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali today.

MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya is expected to take the stand.


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