Paying taxes doesn’t absolve any entity from criminal wrongdoing, says Lim

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.

PETALING JAYA: Paying taxes complies with tax laws but does not absolve any corrupt entity from criminal wrongdoing, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said today.

He said MCA president Wee Ka Siong should stop pretending to be stupid, by saying the fact that Koperasi Jayadiri Sdn Bhd (Kojadi) had paid taxes last year to the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) proved that the RM15 million Kojadi received from Yayasan 1MDB was legal.

“No self-respecting democratic country in the world would allow you to whitewash laundered funds or sanctify illegal money as legitimate, merely because you paid taxes on these laundered or illegal money,” Lim said in a statement today.

Lim said Wee was quoted by The Star on Friday as asking “how the money Kojadi received from Yayasan 1MDB was considered illegal when RM1.03 million was already paid as income tax”.

“Paying taxes complies with tax laws but does not absolve any corrupt entity from any criminal wrongdoing.

“If so, then Jho Low (fugitive financier Low Taek Jho wanted for questioning regarding 1MDB funds ) or Datuk Seri Najib Razak (former prime minister) can easily pay their taxes and not fear any criminal prosecution.”

Yesterday, Wee had questioned Lim’s continued praise of the now-suspended Kojadi chairman Ng Peng Hay, who the party says is in the wrong.

Wee said that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission had not flagged a RM15 million grant to Kojadi from Yayasan 1MDB – which Lim had said should be returned as being 1MDB-linked money.

He said MACC had told Kojadi that 1MDB was still under investigation and made no mention of Yayasan 1MDB. Based on this reply, Kojadi was not required to return the money and had decided not to do so, Wee said.

Lim said Wee was being dishonest by not mentioning that on June 21 this year, MACC had filed civil forfeiture applications, including freezing bank accounts, against 41 individuals and entities connected with Najib or 1MDB.

Lim said according to newspaper reports, Ng was worried that Kojadi would next be subjected to similar action and have its bank account frozen by MACC, and wanted to return the RM15 million.

However, Ng was stopped from doing so by Wee who used MCA’s influence in Kojadi to interfere in Kojadi’s affairs.

“On July 3, Ng’s worse fears were realised when MACC froze the relevant Kojadi bank account. If Kojadi was not required to return money to Yayasan 1MDB, then why was the relevant Kojadi bank account frozen by MACC?

“That is why I believe Ng over Wee, even though Ng was a former MCA Melaka state assemblyman, because Ng rightfully wanted to return the money to Yayasan 1MDB and was punished for wanting to do so by being suspended by the MCA-controlled Kojadi board of directors.

“Further, I had issued a statement on July 12 that Yayasan 1MDB had received RM6.1 million in payment from funds returned by other entities.

“I had mentioned Kojadi had still not returned a single sen of the RM15 million given by Yayasan 1MDB. This was subsequently confirmed by Wee.

“The question to Wee then is, if other entities that received funding from Yayasan 1MDB can return the money voluntarily on their own, why not Kojadi?”

Lim said MCA leaders were trying to play with chauvinistic sentiments to cover up their own parties’ involvement in corrupt acts by belittling efforts made by the government and MACC to recover stolen wealth from those that received money from 1MDB.

“BN should not sacrifice ordinary people or voters with no political links or connections just to save themselves.”

Lim said he was leaving it to MACC to conduct investigations and take appropriate action but clearly entities closely connected and directly linked politically to BN parties had a “moral and ethical obligation” to return the money.

“Government funds should first and foremost not be used to fund political activities or benefit entities close or connected to them.”

Lim, who is also finance minister, said MCA is using its MCA-controlled The Star and its influence in the biggest Chinese mainstream media channels to exert pressure on him to stop him trying to get back 1MDB funds to help settle 1MDB’s RM51 billion debt.