Combating corruption

In Malaysia: Gold, cash, land titles found in safe deposit boxes

Datuk Mohd Arif Abdul Rahman was arrested on Wednesday. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission is looking into whether 10 plots of land registered under his family's name were amassed illicitly.
Datuk Mohd Arif Abdul Rahman was arrested on Wednesday. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission is looking into whether 10 plots of land registered under his family's name were amassed illicitly.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Rural and Regional Development Ministry's secretary-general and his two sons remanded

PUTRAJAYA • Malaysian authorities said yesterday that more gold assets and cash worth RM2.6 million (S$830,000) have been found in several safe deposit boxes in a high-profile graft scandal.

The authorities have obtained a seven-day remand order from a court for the secretary-general of a federal ministry and his two sons.

Titles to 10 plots of land around the Klang Valley region, registered under the family's name, were also discovered yesterday, The Star reported, quoting sources.

The find added to the gold bars, euros and Australian dollars worth a total of RM3 million, as well as 150 luxury handbags, that were found in the home of Datuk Mohd Arif Abdul Rahman after a 12-hour search on Wednesday, according to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Mr Arif, who is the secretary-general of the Rural and Regional Development Ministry, was arrested on Wednesday as he was about to leave his house in the morning.

His sons, aged 29 and 34, were arrested at the MACC headquarters in Putrajaya after they were called in for questioning the same day. The two younger men were not named.

  • ITEMS SEIZED

    RM6m 

    Value of gold and cash, including foreign currencies. 

    150

    Number of luxury handbags, each worth between RM7,000 and RM100,000.

    10 

    Land titles for plots around the Klang Valley region.

The value of the land has yet to be determined and MACC was still checking if the properties were amassed through corrupt means.

The seized designer handbags - which included luxury brands such as Chanel, Hermes and Dior - were worth between RM7,000 and RM100,000 each.

MACC deputy chief commissioner of operations Azam Baki said Mr Arif's 29-year-old son was suspected of playing a role in receiving and keeping the proceeds of the corrupt payments from contractors, suppliers and vendors on behalf of his father, The New Straits Times (NST) reported yesterday.

Rural and Regional Development Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said his ministry will leave it to the commission to conduct the probe.

"I would like to assure that the ministry will give its full cooperation to the MACC and will continuously support its efforts in combating corruption and abuse of power," NST quoted Datuk Seri Ismail as saying in a statement yesterday.

 
 

Mr Arif is the highest-ranked federal officer who is not a politician to have been detained for investigations in a corruption case. The secretary-general's post is similar to that of a permanent secretary in a Singapore ministry.

The MACC probe does not necessarily mean that he will be charged.

The secretaries-general in the 23 Malaysian ministries have powers over budgets and in awarding winners in the projects that their ministries regularly tender out.

Several top Malaysian politicians have been charged in cases of corruption previously.

These include former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, who was charged with corruption for interfering with police investigations into a sexual misconduct report made against him. He was found guilty in 1999.

Tan Sri Kasitah Gaddam, who was then serving as land and cooperative development minister, was charged in a corruption case in 2004, while former transport minister Chan Kong Choy was charged in 2011 for alleged links to the Port Klang Free Zone corruption scandal. Both of them were later acquitted - Mr Kasitah in 2009, and Tan Sri Chan in 2014.

The assets found in Mr Arif's possession also recalled a separate case ongoing in Sabah.

Last week, a former director of the Sabah Water Department, his wife and a former deputy director were charged with misappropriating funds amounting to RM61.5 million and unlawfully possessing luxury products.

The department is not a federal ministry but a state agency.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2017, with the headline 'In Malaysia: Gold, cash, land titles found in safe deposit boxes '. Print Edition | Subscribe