Deputy minister Razali Ibrahim replies that other charges will be preferred against the suspects upon completion of MACC probe.
KUALA LUMPUR: Why are the suspects in the Sabah Water Department scandal charged with money laundering instead of corruption, asks former Umno minister Shafie Apdal.
“I know it (the case) is still under investigation. But why, when it was taken to court, was the charge money laundering and not corruption?
“The money was found in the house (of the suspect),” said Shafie (Warisan-Semporna).
He had interjected with the question during Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Razali Ibrahim’s speech in the Dewan Rakyat today.
Razali, prior to Shafie’s question, was asked by Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud (Amanah-Kota Raja) about the status of the case, dubbed the Sabah Watergate Scandal, and the action the government had taken.
According to Razali, investigations under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 were still on-going.
“There are several other charges that can be filed (against the suspects), based on information obtained from the investigation.
“One of them is criminal breach of trust, and there are also charges involving corruption.
“When MACC completes the investigation, the investigation paper will be presented to the attorney-general (and the charges filed will) depend on the information received,” he said in response to Shafie.
Shafie, who was formerly the rural and regional development minister, then proceeded to slam those who had tried to link him to the scandal.
He said the Sabah finance ministry had the final say in the awarding of all contracts.
“The tender process is carried out by the Sabah Water Department, the works department and the (Sabah) finance ministry.
“But no one ministry can award a contract directly without the approval of the (Sabah) finance ministry.”
Last October, MACC made what was said to be its biggest ever seizure with the recovery of RM114 million from the homes of Sabah Water Department senior officials.
This included RM53.7 million cash that took MACC officers 15 hours to count. Of the sum, RM45 million was seized from former director Awang Mohd Tahir Mohd Talib, and RM7.5 million from his deputy Lim Lam Beng. The remaining RM1.18 million was in foreign currencies.
The money was reported to have been stashed in cupboards, drawers and a car boot.
Also found were 19kg of gold jewellery, 97 designer handbags, and 127 land titles for plots valued at RM30 million. A further RM60 million in bank accounts was frozen.
Awang, his wife Fauziah Piut and Lim were subsequently taken into police custody and charged under the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Act 2001.
They pleaded not guilty to all 37 charges filed against them.
The trial dates were fixed for July and August. The prosecution said it had more than 200 witnesses on its list.