Another Umno chieftain has his day in court over corruption charges

Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim had earlier been charged with accepting bribes totalling RM5.2 million. PHOTO: AZEEZ RAHIM/FACEBOOK

KUALA LUMPUR - A corruption and money laundering trial involving an Umno MP has started in Malaysia, adding to other high-profile court cases involving leaders of the Malay nationalist party.

Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, 53, a lawmaker from Kedah and a member of the powerful Umno supreme council, has been charged with accepting bribes totalling RM5.2 million (S$1.7 million) involving road projects spanning Perak and Kedah states, and nine counts of money laundering, involving nearly RM140 million.

His brother, Abdul Latif Abdul Rahim, 62, is accused of abetting him.

They pleaded not guilty. The trial started on Wednesday (Aug 19).

Azeez and the other Umno chieftains were charged in the months following the May 2018 general election that brought to federal power the Pakatan Harapan government led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The PH administration collapsed in late February after just 22 months in power, with Umno now part of the Perikatan Nasional government that rules Malaysia.

Others from Umno who are facing a slew of separate charges include former Umno president Najib Razak and his wife, current party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, and former party secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor.

There are also other court cases involving former Cabinet minister from Umno Isa Samad and Sabah Umno's chief Bung Moktar Radin and his wife. Isa quit Umno in October 2018.

They have all pleaded not guilty to their cases and claimed trial.

In June, Umno's former Sabah chief minister Musa Aman was acquitted and discharged of all 46 criminal charges linked to timber concessions contracts in the state.

Najib was on July 28 sentenced to 12 years' jail and fined RM210 million after being found guilty of all seven charges in the first of his five trials relating to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal. He has appealed against the conviction.

Najib is currently in court to face a charge of abusing his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report to avoid any action being taken against him, while former 1MDB chief executive Arul Kanda is charged with abetting Najib in making the amendments.

If found guilty, they could be jailed for up to 20 years and fined no less than five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000.

Meanwhile, Najib's wife Rosmah Mansor is in another court facing corruption charges involving a solar hybrid project in Sarawak state.

Prosecutors allege that Rosmah pocketed RM6.5 million for helping a company, Jepak Holdings, secure the project to provide solar power generators to schools in Sarawak state when Najib was in office.

She is also accused of soliciting a further RM187.5 million. The offences allegedly took place in 2016 and 2017.

In the court case involving MP Azeez, his elder brother Latif is accused of abetting Azeez to obtain a bribe from a director of a company Syarikat Menuju Asas as gratification to help it secure road projects through limited tender from the Works Ministry, Bernama news agency reported at the start of the trial.

One project was the Pantai Baru Coastal Expressway Project upgrading works valued at RM644.48 million.

Details revealed in court on Wednesday mostly revolved around the registration of four companies including Menuju Asas that allegedly benefited due to payments of the bribes to Azeez, Malay Mail online news reported.

The trial before Judge Azura Alwi will continue until Sept 7, Bernama said.

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