Zakat money safe, assures Penang govt after MACC arrests


GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government has assured all zakat payers in the state that their tithes are in safe hands, following the arrest of four key Penang Zakat Centre officials over an alleged bribes-for-project racket yesterday.

State executive councillor in charge of Islamic affairs, Abdul Malik Abul Kassim, said the zakat centre’s assets and tithe money collected were “not touched” and that no misappropriation had taken place.

He said independent auditors had taken a look at the zakat centre’s books for 2015 and had not raised any red flags.

“If the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) investigation reveals that there was indeed corruption in the top management, we will send a team of forensic auditors right away.

“The four key management people would also be relieved of their duties as per standard government procedure,” Malik said at a press conference in Komtar today.

The Penang Zakat Centre is under the Penang Islamic Council (MAINPP), a state statutory body.

Yesterday, the MACC arrested 11 people, including the “big boss” of the Penang Zakat Centre at his office in Bukit Mertajam.

The top manager, appointed in 1995, had also allegedly played favourites by awarding community development projects to the same set of contractors repeatedly.

MACC officers found cash, cheques and other valuables in the manager’s office.

The zakat manager was also alleged to have approved yearly study loans for his own child. Officers say the racket had been going on since 2013.

Meanwhile, MAINPP president Mohd Salleh Man said it would work with the MACC on the investigation into the alleged corrupt practices of zakat centre officials.

“MAINPP, as a religious institution, will take stern action against those who are proven to be involved in graft and we will not hesitate to sack them right away,” he said. Salleh is also the Penang Zakat board of directors chairman.