The brother of a Malaysian deputy public prosecutor whose body was found in a cement-filled oil drum that had been dumped in a river has issued a sworn declaration that the victim, Anthony Kevin Morais, was investigating corruption involving Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife, Rosmah Mansor when he disappeared.
Morais apparently had been strangled although that is uncertain since his body was cremated before his brother, Charles Suresh Morais, an Atlanta, Georgia businessman, could order a second autopsy. The story involves an astonishing series of twists and turns, including possible links to the 2013 murder of a prominent banker in a Kuala Lumpur temple parking lot.
Morais’s body disappeared from a Kuala Lumpur hospital mortuary despite pleas by the brother, Charles, for a second autopsy. The body was claimed and cremated over Charles’ objections by another brother, Richard, who has been in constant trouble with the law and who figured in the 2013 murder of the late Arab Malaysian Bank founder Hussain Najadi. The bank is now known as AmBank.
Car rammed, prosecutor abducted
Surveillance footage from a CCTV camera the day the 55-year-old Kevin Morais disappeared showed his car being followed and rammed by another. He was reportedly abducted after the collision and was never seen alive again. One of the seven suspects arrested after the footage identified the car in the collision led investigators to a suburb near Kuala Lumpur where Morais’s body, encased in the oil drum, had been rolled into a river.
Morais had been seconded from the Justice Ministry to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, which was looking into financial irregularities involving the troubled 1Malaysia Development Bhd. state-backed investment fund and other issues.
In July, Najib fired the attorney general, Abdul Gani Patail, one of a dramatic series of events that included forcing out the Deputy Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, transferring the deputy head of the police special branch intelligence division, neutralizing a special parliamentary committee seeking answers over corruption, questioning seven members of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission over leaks about the case, sending the head of the MACC “on vacation” and threatening any and all critics with sedition charges.
Today, a source said, the commission investigators are terrified and believe they are in danger, followed by Special Branch police, over suspicions they had leaked details of the investigation to Clare Rewcastle Brown, the editor of the UK-based Sarawak Report, which has been deeply involved in investigating the 1MDB case and broken most of the important stories. The leaker, Charles Morais said, may have been his dead brother because anonymous emails to Rewcastle Brown were signed by “firstname.lastname@example.org.” “ Jibby,” Charles Morais said was a nickname for a Morais family friend. However, it is also a derisory nickname used by many for Najib himself.
Mohd Apandi Ali, the attorney general picked to replace Gani Patail by Najib – who is also a lawyer connected to the United Malays National Organization, which Najib heads, had previously dismissed the alleged draft charge sheet as false. The office denied Kevin Morais was working on the Najib case, which appears to have disappeared.
Although prosecutors said the mastermind was actually a military doctor who had been prosecuted by Morais recently in a graft case, Charles Morais called for the case to be revisited.
A thumb drive of evidence
In a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on Nov. 26, Charles Morais, who had flown back to Malaysia from the US, said he had received a mobile USB storage device from his brother shortly before his death, dealing with investigations he was looking into, as well as an alleged draft charge sheet against the prime minister which was released by Sarawak Report and carried the initials of his brother. Morais said that when he saw the alleged draft charge sheet, he recognized his brother’s initials.
To a police demand that he turn over the USB device for investigation, Charles Morais said the device is in safekeeping in Atlanta, and that he didn’t trust the police enough to give it to them.
“Two to three months before Kevin’s demise, he told me that he was working on a case involving the prime minister and his wife,” Charles Morais said in the sworn document. “He said the prime minister was a terrible guy but that his wife was worse. He actually used the words kolata ala. These were Malayalam (Eds: a Dravidian dialect spoken in the Indian state of Kerala) and translated into English meaning ‘a person up to no good’. He told me his phone might be tapped and to be careful what I said. That is why half of our conversations were usually in Malayalam.”
Dead man couriers possible evidence to brother
In mid-August, Morais said, his brother, who in frequent telephone calls said he was increasingly depressed and wanted to retire to London, emailed him telling him he would courier something to him and “to watch out for it as he wanted me to keep it in safe custody. This was the last call I received from Kevin and was about a week before he went missing.”
Morais called Abdul Gani Patail, the cashiered attorney general, twice in the attempt to find his brother. On the second call, Gani Patail answered, saying: “Please remain calm, I am not working there any more. What I have been told is that the police are working relentlessly on the matter.”
Notified that his brother was dead, Charles Morais flew back to Malaysia and went to the mortuary to meet his two brothers, with Richard demanding to leave with Kevin’s body despite the fact that Kevin had broken with him 14 years before.
Connection to AmBank murder
Richard Morais has a checkered history, as his brother said during his press conference. He has been in frequent trouble with the law in both Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong. Pascal Najadi, the son of the AmBank founder Hussain Najadi, who was assassinated in the car park of a Kuala Lumpur temple in 2013, has charged that no real investigation of the crime has taken place. Najadi said Richard Morais had requested that his father go to the temple to attempt to settle business dispute that that the murderer was waiting for him.
Pascal Najadi, now a banking consultant in Moscow who says he fears for his own life and has employed bodyguards, has raised questions over whether his father’s refusal to play along with UMNO financial irregularities led to his death. On two occasions shortly before he was killed, Najadi said, his father complained about UMNO corruption. Najadi has repeatedly called for the investigation of his father's death to be reopened.
On the first occasion, he told his son that during a lunch at the Shangri-La Hotel in Kuala Lumpur he had been approached by unnamed high-ranking UMNO officials to orchestrate a multi-billion ringgit property deal connected to the Kuala Lumpur City Center that Hussain characterized as clearly illegal and “told them to go fly a kite.” On the second occasion, he told his son that Najib was “lining his pockets with billions of ringgit with no consideration for the future of the country.”
The speculation is that the funds deposited with AmBank came from companies connected to the 1MDB, which has RM42 billion in liabilities, an unknown amount of that unfunded, and is struggling to meet its payments.
Mastermind arrested, mysteriously freed
Police identified a Malacca nightclub owner, Lim Yuen Soo, as the mastermind who paid to have Najadi shot. Lim disappeared for more than two years, with a red alert issued by Interpol at the behest of the Kuala Lumpur police although sources say he seemed to be in and out of Kuala Lumpur regularly. Police arrested him at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in late October, but turned him loose eight days later for lack of evidence, raising a multitude of questions over how he could have been identified as the mastermind for two years only to be freed almost immediately when he was caught. Since the murder case involving Hussain Najadi was closed, there are questions why it hasn’t been reopened to find another mastermind behind the killing.
That has raised additional questions whether Lim – and Richard Morais -- have friends in Malaysia’s high political circles. Despite his status –until recently – as a fugitive, Lim is the registered part owner of the Active Force Security Services Sdn Bhd. with the former Malacca Police Chief Mohd Khasni Mohd Nor.