Malaysia's anti-graft agency seizes S$58m in rural aid case

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's anti-graft agency has seized nearly RM180 million (S$58 million) in cash as it probes allegations that senior civil servants have embezzled funds allocated for the rural poor in Sabah state.

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad on Thursday (Oct 5) said another RM29 million had been seized, following the seizure of more than RM 150 million on Wednesday in a "recent Sabah case", reported The Star.

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.

Unnamed sources told the New Straits Times (NST) that the corrupt officials had pocketed at least RM100 million in the last few years by colluding with private companies to declare in writing that the projects they were supposed to undertake had been completed, when in fact nothing had been done.

The projects were valued at between RM500 million and nearly RM1 billion, and included food programmes for poor students and the provision of basic amenities such as water, electricity and roads.

In January, the ministry's former secretary-general Datuk Mohd Arif Ab Rahman was arrested for corruption in a high-profile raid where RM2.6 million in cash and gold was seized.

MACC Deputy Chief Commissioner Datuk Azam Baki told the NST that the commission had, in recent months, been dealing with many cases that involved the swindling of funds set aside for the benefit of the underprivileged.

"This includes abuse of power and graft, including civil servants in decision-making positions colluding with the corrupt from the private sector to line their own pockets," he said.

Mr Azam said their modus operandi would often involve the falsification of documents to indicate that planned projects had been carried out, when they were not. Another popular method was to cut back on the budgeted expenditure and pocket the difference.

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