The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)'s investigation on private investigator P.Balasubramaniam is complicated as his location is unknown, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz.
While replying to a question by Chua Tian Chang (PKR-Batu) on the outcome of the MACC's action after Balasubramaniam was said to be willing to aid in the investigation into the death of Mongolian woman, Altantuya Shaariibuu.
"So we ask that the Honourable MP if he knows where he is to not be afraid or worried as he (Bala) is only a witness, so there is no need to be worried," he said.
On July 3, 2008, Balasubramaniam made a statutory declaration (SD)regarding Altantuya's death but the following day he retracted the SD via a second SD before disappearing believed to have gone abroad with his family.
Mohamed Nazri said the MACC strived to get a statement from Balasubramaniam through his lawyers who however refused to divulge his whereabouts.
"The MACC at the early stages received e-mails from a lawyer who was said to representing Balasubramaniam and who placed several conditions under which the MACC could videotape his client.
"After discussions were held and the lawyer who sent the e-mail was identified as Americk Sidhu, the MACC sent a letter to the said lawyer to forward an official letter relating to Balasubramaniam's willingness," he said.
Mohamed Nazri said the MACC then received a letter from another lawyer identified as Manjeet Singh Dhillon who represented Americk and repeating the same conditions.
"Among the conditions were that Balasuramaniam be spoken to in Singapore or London; and that all costs related to travel costs; hotel charges; transport; and meals for Balasubramaniam, Americk, and other lawyers present be borne by the MACC.
"Another condition was that the taping be done in English and that a copy of the videotaping sesion be given to him," he said.
Mohamed Nazri said the MACC then sent a letter to the lawyers concerned to notify of its willingness to conduct the interview at the Malaysia High Commission in Singapore in English.
MACC was also prepared pay for the return flights of Balasubramaniam, hotel stay, transport and food for him alone.
Mohamed Nazri said the MACC could not meet the conditions of the lawyers concerned to give a copy of the interview to Balasubramaniam as it came under the Official Secrets Act 1972.
"Further to that, MACC received a letter from the same lawyers who said they were not happy with the MACC who had used the word "secret".
"The lawyers also said the MACC was not entitled to do so and called on the MACC to retract the reply letter with the the word "secret" to enable them to get instructions from their client," he said.
He said via unofficial channels, the MACC was informed that Balasubramaniam did not agree to being interviewed in Singapore.
"Balasubramaniam's side also did not take any further action until their demands were met the MACC.
"The question now is whether Balasubramaniam really wishes to aid the MACC to complete the investigation? What was his real motive in making the SD to implicate certain quarters with the death of Altantuya?
"Are there elements as raised by the Kulim-Bandar Baharu MP (Zulkifli Noordin) recently," he asked.
Mohamed Nazri said several relevant witnesses helping in the investigation, including those who had urged Balasubramanim to retract his SD, had their statements taken.
"The MACC's problem is to record Balasubramaniam's statement," he said.
He gave assurance to use extradition laws if the country where Balasubramaniam was in had an extradition agreement with Malaysia.
Replying to a question by Khairy Jamaludin (BN-Rembau) who wanted to know if Balasubramaniam could be charged for lying when making his first SD, Mohamed Nazri said: "If Balasubramaniam had retracted he has committed perjury, whereby
he has lied while declaring.
he has lied while declaring.
"Still if he can prove that the first matter was under duress and pressure there can still be consideration for him to be released from perjury. He is not here, that is the problem we are facing now," he said.