Malaysia's former spy chief faces CBT charge

Hasanah Ab Hamid pleaded not guilty to a criminal breach of trust charge involving $16.7 million.
Hasanah Ab Hamid pleaded not guilty to a criminal breach of trust charge involving $16.7 million.

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's former spy chief was charged in court yesterday with criminal breach of trust (CBT) involving US$12.1 million (S$16.7 million) belonging to the government.

Hasanah Ab Hamid, 61, former director-general of the Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation (MEIO), was accused of committing the offence in the Prime Minister's Department in Putrajaya between April 30 and May 9 this year.

She pleaded not guilty. The offence carries a maximum 20 years in jail, whipping and a fine.

Her lawyer, Datuk Shaharudin Ali, said the case is not related to state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

"Some people may be confused, but this case has nothing to do with 1MDB, nor does it have anything to do with the 1MDB debt or its subsidiaries," he said.

Separately, former prime minister Najib Razak and Irwan Serigar Abdullah, the Finance Ministry's former secretary-general, yesterday faced six CBT charges linked to 1MDB.

Hasanah's court case, and a recent controversy over a letter she wrote to the US Central Intelligence Agency, had raised the profile of the MEIO, which is unofficially known as a research division under the PM's Department.

Mr Shaharudin said it was unclear whether the funds referred to in court was from the Malaysian government or from foreign sources.

Thus, he said, parts of the case cannot "be disclosed freely in the open court".

Hazlin Hassan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2018, with the headline 'Malaysia's former spy chief faces CBT charge'. Print Edition | Subscribe