KUALA LUMPUR: Anti-graft authorities in Hong Kong had cleared Musa Aman as early as nine years ago, says one of the lawyers for the former Sabah chief minister following the prosecution’s decision today to withdraw 46 charges involving money laundering and corruption.
Amer Hamzah Arshad said Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) had informed Musa, through a letter dated Dec 22, 2011 that there would be no further action against him.
“ICAC’s investigations showed that our client (Musa) was not involved in any corrupt practices. And until today, there were no further investigations against him by the Hong Kong authorities,” Amer said in a statement.
Amer said the charges against Musa in November 2018 in connection with timber concession contracts in Sabah were baseless, and were filed at a time he was involved in a civil dispute over the rightful chief minister following the 14th general election.
“After so long Musa Aman was confirmed by ICAC and MACC as not guilty of the offence, the authorities for reasons only known to them decided to arrest and charge Musa Aman two days before a decision on the civil case. This action had directly or indirectly given the political advantage to his political rival,” said Amer, believed to be referring to current chief minister and Warisan leader, Shafie Apdal.
“Doesn’t this give an indication that the charges against Musa Aman were mala fide and a political persecution?” he asked.
Musa was sworn in as chief minister again a day after the May 2018 elections, but was replaced by Shafie two days later. Shafie was sworn in after several assemblymen from Umno and Upko jumped ship to back Warisan.
In March, Musa filed an appeal in the Federal Court for a declaration that he was the rightful chief minister, after the Court of Appeal in November struck out his challenge against the High Court’s decision to dismiss his claim.
Amer maintained that the monies mentioned in the charges were from donations and political funds, and had already been explained during past investigations.
“All the relevant documents have been provided to the MACC. At all times, these political donations did not involve any project for Sabah, timber concessions and were not on a quid pro quo basis,” he said.
Amer said transactions for political contributions were not a crime, adding that this was also confirmed by the current MACC chief commissioner Azam Baki in 2017 who said the anti-graft body had no jurisdiction on such matters in Malaysia.
He added that the defence team had given the relevant facts in support of Musa including those linked to Hong Kong’s ICAC as well as an affidavit by former attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail.
He said in 2011, Gani, then deputy solicitor-general II Tun Abdul Majid Hamzah, then MACC chief Abu Kassim Mohammad as well as its then head of investigations Mustafar Ali had decided not to charge Musa.
“Their decision was also affirmed by MACC’s evaluation panel. This clearly shows the decision on not to prosecute our client was looked at thoroughly,” he added.
He said the earlier decision by the prosecutors not to bring charges against Musa should not be taken lightly “and should not be changed arbitrarily without a strong reason”.
“It will be a dark day if a Public Prosecutor’s words have no finality and may be ‘broken’ without any compunction,” said Amer, quoting a judgment from a 2009 case.
The High Court today freed Musa after the prosecution said it was withdrawing all the 46 charges against him.
Musa, who was chief minister from 2003 to 2018, claimed trial to 35 corruption charges on Nov 5, 2018. Of these, five were subsequently dropped.
He was accused of receiving bribes of between US$28,500 and US$16,148,547 from various individuals 12 to 16 years ago.
He was also slapped with 16 money laundering charges for allegedly receiving US$37 million from various individuals and companies from June 2006 to March 2008.
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