Mahathir's sons, under corruption probe, claim their father is the real target

They are witnesses to whatever it is that MACC is investigating, Mokhzani Mahathir said.

Keyla Supharta | March 27, 2024, 10:04 AM



The two oldest sons of former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, 98, claimed their father is the "primary suspect" of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission's (MACC) investigation into their finances.

In an interview with Bloomberg on Mar. 23 in Kuala Lumpur, Mokhzani Mahathir, 63, said that he and his brother Mirzan "are witnesses to whatever it is that they're (MACC) investigating", in which Mahathir is the "primary suspect".

In response to media queries, MACC chief Azam Baki said that the commission will look into the claims and check the facts first before making any statement, Malaysiakini reported.

To declare assets going back to 1981

In January, MACC ordered Mokhzani and his older brother, Mirzan, 65, to declare their assets going back to 1981, the year Mahathir became prime minister.

Both brothers are known to be active in the business field and are reputed to have massive fortunes.

MACC said the investigation is being carried out under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing, and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.

"Near impossible task"

“We did ask, ‘What is the investigation on my father about?’ and they were not able to furnish us with that information,” Mokhzani said, as quoted by Bloomberg.

“Can you imagine you’re being asked to provide information to be used to prosecute your parent?”

While both Mokhzani and Mirzan are assisting MACC with their investigation, the task is proving to be laborious and time-intensive.

Mokhzani said that it was a "near impossible task" to declare all their assets dating back to 1981, adding that everything then was documented through physical records and not digitised.

Mahathir's sons have been granted two extensions beyond the original February deadline for compliance.

The two brothers said they're coordinating with company secretaries and accountants to submit the asset declarations.

Not the only one

Mahathir's two eldest sons are not the only ones who are being investigated for corruption probe by MACC.

Former Malaysian Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin, who is a close ally of Mahathir, was recently charged by MACC with at least one charge of failing to declare properties said to belong to him and his wife.

MACC revealed in December 2023 that it was probing Daim for alleged corruption and money laundering.

They are entitled to be rich if they can become rich: Mahathir

Mahathir, who led Malaysia for nearly 25 years, has long claimed that his children's wealth had nothing to do with him and was solely due to their own hard work.

"If they are rich now it is through their own efforts," Mahathir said in March 2018, as quoted by Free Malaysia Today.

"They are entitled to be rich, that is if they can become rich. But some of my relatives are as poor as a church mouse."

In January this year, Mahathir claimed at a press briefing that the probe involving his son Mirzan was politically driven, Bloomberg reported.

The press briefing was conducted before Mokhzani was also ordered to declare his assets.

Days after, the 98-year-old former prime minister was admitted to the National Heart Institute.

He was discharged last week after being admitted for 53 days, according to The Star.

RM150 million defamation suit against Anwar

In May last year, Mahathir filed a 150 million ringgit (S$42.8 million) defamation suit against Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

Mahathir claimed that Anwar had defamed him by accusing him of enriching himself and his family during his time as Prime Minister.

The 98-year-old filed the defamation suit after Anwar said that a "person who was in power for 22 years and 22 months" had "amassed wealth for him, his family, and his children", though he did not explicitly name Mahathir.

In return, Anwar filed a statement of defence to strike out Mahathir's legal suit.

“Anwar has said that I have stolen government money,” Mahathir said in a press conference on Jan. 22. “As far as I know, I haven’t stolen a single cent.”

Top image via Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad/Facebook.