Three Malaysian graft busters detained for allegedly stealing funds in case involving former spy chief

Former Malaysian spy chief Hasanah Abdul Hamid was charged in 2018 with criminal breach of trust, but was later granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal in the High Court. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR - Three Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers have been arrested for allegedly misappropriating funds connected to a case involving the country's former spymaster, further tarnishing the image of the agency.

The officers, who were detained last week, had allegedly stolen a portion of US$6 million (S$8.1 million) seized from the former director-general of the Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation (MEIO), Datuk Hasanah Abdul Hamid. Some of the stolen cash was replaced with counterfeit currency.

The former spy chief was charged in 2018 with criminal breach of trust involving RM50.4 million (S$16.3 million) belonging to the government.

But in April, she was granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal in the High Court. This means that she can be hauled up to court again if fresh evidence arises.

During investigations into her case, the MACC had seized cash and other belongings from her.

A source told The Straits Times that the three suspects were part of a "special team" assigned to probe into the allegations of power abuse and malpractice involving the former MEIO chief.

"They belong to a very 'exclusive' team. It's a known fact among the agency's investigating officers that they have a close relationship with the chief," the source said, referring to MACC chief Azam Baki.

The arrest of the anti-graft busters came to light after a blog called Edisi Siasat posted an entry revealing the details on Sept 18.

It claimed that Madam Hasanah had gone to retrieve the money, only to discover that a portion had been replaced with fake notes, prompting her to file a police report.

But Malaysia's Criminal Investigation Department chief Abd Jalil Hassan on Monday (Sept 20) said in a statement that he had yet to receive any police report regarding the alleged abuse of power and misappropriation of funds.

All three suspects were said to have been remanded by the commission for six days from Sept 14, according to the blog, which questioned why their case was being treated as an internal investigation instead of a police case.

Responding to the blog's revelations, the commission confirmed that it has arrested three of its officers to assist in investigations into allegations of abuse of power and malpractice in the case of a former department head.

"The three officers were brought before the Putrajaya Magistrate's Court and remanded under Section 117 of the Criminal Procedure Code for six days from Sept 14 to Sept 19, 2021," it said in a statement.

It added that a thorough investigation is under way.

"MACC would like to emphasise that the commission will not compromise or protect any of its officers involved in any criminal act and will take appropriate action if the act is true," the MACC said.

This is not the first time that the MACC has found itself embroiled in a scandal involving its own.

On June 15, an MACC officer was charged with allegedly conspiring with another man to receive RM100,000 in cash to shield an individual from being investigated under the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001.

In April, two MACC officials were among 12 enforcement officers nabbed by the Malaysian police for their alleged links with Malaysian fugitive businessman Nicky Liow Soon Hee.

Liow, 33, who is wanted for alleged money laundering and organised crime activities, is said to have ties to convicted Hong Kong triad boss Wan Kuok-Koi, also known as Broken Tooth.

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