Clear the air on RM15 mil for Sabah land deal, Risda told

Questions have been asked about an RM18 million payment to Risda arising from an aborted land deal.

KOTA KINABALU: The Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda) has been urged to clear the air on a criminal breach of trust police report on a land deal worth millions made against a Sabah legal firm in 2016.

SAPP president Yong Teck Lee said there had been a claim that the money had already been returned, and that a lawyer whose firm was linked to the deal had not gone missing as believed.

Yong,quoting some news reports, said a lawyer representing the family of Michael Persius Ubu had said that RM18 million had been returned to Risda from the land deal.

“The family has also denied that Ubu had gone missing and that he was at home,” Yong said.

Ubu’s legal firm was linked to the Risda land deal in 2014.

Yesterday, the lawyer’s children, through counsel Benjamin Chin, denied claims by a Sabah news portal that their father had gone missing or was held by the state Health Department at an undisclosed location in Sabah.

Chin said Ubu was at home.

In 2016, Risda had lodged a police report accusing Ubu’s firm of a breach of trust after the land deal initiated in 2014 did not go through.

SAPP president Yong Teck Lee.

Risda had claimed Ubu’s firm was a trustee and had been given a cheque for RM15 million, amounting to a 10% deposit to purchase a 2,428ha piece of land in Tongod, an interior district in Sabah.

Sabah Infrastructure Development Minister Peter Anthony, who was then an NGO leader, was also linked to this Risda land deal and was questioned by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in 2018 about it. The whereabouts of Ubu was not known at that time.

Yong said Chin’s statement had now opened a can of worms. He said, instead of resolving the matter, it would only lead to more questions and controversy.

He said there remained questions about how Ubu was able to raise RM18 million, who paid the money and when the payment was done to Risda.

If the money had been returned more recently, then Risda would be subject to an audit query and officials must explain where the money had gone, said Yong.

Meanwhile, there are numerous unverified claims that MACC may seek Anthony’s assistance in the matter again next week. However, there was no response from MACC and Anthony when contacted by FMT.

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