Up to $483m meant for Sabah's rural poor stolen, probe shows

Former Cabinet minister Shafie Apdal (above) has called the probe a "political assassination" targeted at him. Parti Warisan Sabah vice-president Peter Anthony (left) is among three people arrested in connection with the alleged siphoning of ministry
Former Cabinet minister Shafie Apdal has called the probe a "political assassination" targeted at him. Parti Warisan Sabah vice-president Peter Anthony (above) is among three people arrested in connection with the alleged siphoning of ministry funds.PHOTOS: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
Former Cabinet minister Shafie Apdal (above) has called the probe a "political assassination" targeted at him. Parti Warisan Sabah vice-president Peter Anthony (left) is among three people arrested in connection with the alleged siphoning of ministry
Former Cabinet minister Shafie Apdal (above) has called the probe a "political assassination" targeted at him. Parti Warisan Sabah vice-president Peter Anthony is among three people arrested in connection with the alleged siphoning of ministry funds.PHOTOS: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KOTA KINABALU • Malaysia's probe into allegations that senior civil servants embezzled funds meant for the rural poor in Sabah state has revealed that as much as RM1.5 billion (S$483 million) was stolen over the past six years, as former Cabinet minister turned opposition politician Shafie Apdal called the probe a "political assassination" targeted at him.

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission deputy chief commissioner Azam Baki said it was investigating about 60 companies that were awarded projects for the supply of water, electricity and roads to rural communities in Sabah.

The funds allocated for these projects over the past six years totalled RM7.5 billion.

"We are not targeting any specific personalities, but will call up anyone who we believe is connected to the projects," he told reporters yesterday.

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. Datuk Seri Shafie was its minister from 2009 to 2015.

 

He quit Umno and the government last year and formed the opposition Parti Warisan Sabah.

Three people have been arrested in connection with alleged siphoning of the ministry's funds, including Parti Warisan Sabah vice-president Peter Anthony.

  • 60

  • Number of companies being investigated. These companies were awarded projects for the supply of water, electricity and roads to rural communities in Sabah. The funds allocated for these projects over the past six years totalled RM7.5 billion.

Mr Shafie said 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," he told reporters in Kota Kinabalu, the Sabah state capital, yesterday. "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."

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

Mr Shafie is trying to forge a united opposition front in the upcoming general election against the Barisan Nasional coalition led by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2017, with the headline 'Up to $483m meant for Sabah's rural poor stolen, probe shows'. Print Edition | Subscribe