Malaysia probe reveals S$484m stolen in Sabah rural aid case

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) deputy chief commissioner Azam Baki said the agency was investigating some 60 companies which were awarded projects for rural communities in Sabah.
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) deputy chief commissioner Azam Baki said the agency was investigating some 60 companies which were awarded projects for rural communities in Sabah.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KOTA KINABALU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's probe into allegations senior civil servants embezzled funds meant for the rural poor in Sabah state has revealed as much as RM1.5 billion (S$484 million) was stolen over the last six years.

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) deputy chief commissioner Azam Baki said the agency was investigating some 60 companies which were awarded projects for the supply of water, electricity and roads for rural communities in Sabah. The funds allocated for these projects over the last six years totalled RM7.5 billion.

"We are not targeting any specific personalities, but will call up anyone whom we believe is connected to the projects," he told reporters on Friday (Oct 6).

On Thursday, the agency said it had seized nearly RM180 million in cash as part of its investigations.

The officials involved in the scheme to siphon money from projects meant for the underprivileged are believed to be from the Rural and Regional Development Ministry.

Three people have been arrested in connection with the scheme, including Peter Anthony, vice-president of Parti Warisan Sabah, an opposition party founded by former minister of rural and regional development Shafie Apdal.

Datuk Seri Shafie said on Friday the probe is politically motivated, but that he is ready to meet the agency's officials.

"I can help in the investigations and tell them what they want to know but don't fabricate anything.

"I'm seeing allegations that those companies are Shafie's proxies. Please don't tell people that all the companies and money belong to me," he told reporters in Kota Kinabalu on Friday.

The other two people detained are a 40-year-old woman, who is a former deputy undersecretary (infrastructure) from the ministry, and a businessman from Sabah.