Graft-busters seize $38m from two Sabah officials

Datuk Azam (third from right) and other officers showing cash and jewellery seized from the top two officials of the Sabah Water Department in Kota Kinabalu on Wednesday.
Datuk Azam (third from right) and other officers showing cash and jewellery seized from the top two officials of the Sabah Water Department in Kota Kinabalu on Wednesday.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Haul is biggest in anti-graft body's history; duo probed for alleged kickbacks

KOTA KINABALU • It came as a shock to even the most seasoned graft-busters.

In the biggest seizure in its 49-year history, the Malaysian Anti- Corruption Commission (MACC) recovered RM114 million (S$38 million) from the Sabah Water Department's top two officials - including RM53.7 million in cash that took more than 30 officers 15 hours to count.

Also recovered from the homes and offices of the director and his deputy were nine mostly luxury vehicles, expensive watches, jewellery and 94 high-end handbags.

The cash - RM45 million seized from the director and RM7.5 million from his deputy - was found stashed inside safes, cupboards, drawers and a car boot, according to the MACC. Also seized was RM1.18 million in foreign currencies.

The two senior state civil officers were arrested on Tuesday and will be remanded for a week for probes into alleged kickbacks involving RM3.3 billion of federal projects.

"It is the highest amount of cash we have ever recovered in our history as MACC, or when we were known as the Anti-Corruption Agency," newly promoted MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Azam Baki told a news conference here on Wednesday.

  • 15 

    Number of hours over 30 officers took to count RM53.7 million in cash. 

    127

    Number of land titles worth millions of ringgit found by the MACC team. 

A 55-year-old businessman with a Datuk title, believed to be the brother of the deputy director, and his company accountant have also been arrested.

In what is shaping up to be the nation's biggest corruption and money-laundering probes, the MACC has frozen some RM60 million in accounts of the two officials and the company they purportedly have links to. "In cash and bank accounts, we have seized RM114 million in total," Datuk Azam said.

MACC, he added, believed a large sum might also have been channelled to bank accounts in a neighbouring country.

The team also found 127 land titles worth millions of ringgit and nine vehicles totalling RM3 million in value. Yesterday, MACC officials opened three more safes, after four were opened, and found more cash and jewellery.

Mr Azam said MACC began its investigations about a year ago after receiving tip-offs and believed the racket had been going on since 2010.

"We are still working out the money trail, and it will take some time as it is a complex investigation," he said.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2016, with the headline 'Graft-busters seize $38m from two Sabah officials'. Print Edition | Subscribe