Lawyer linked to Risda land deal claims trial to RM18 mil CBT, money laundering charges

Lawyer Michael Persius Ubu (centre) accompanied by MACC officers in the Sessions Court in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, today.

KOTA KINABALU: A lawyer pleaded not guilty in the Sessions Court here today to criminal breach of trust and money laundering amounting to RM18,545,400 in connection with a Risda land deal.

Michael Persius Ubu, 64, who was reported to have been engaged as an agent for Risda to purchase 6,768 acres of native land in Tongod in 2014, claimed trial to one count of CBT amounting to RM15,545,400.

He also claimed trial to two counts under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities (Amla) Act 2001 of receiving more than RM3 million between 2014 and 2016 from a firm believed to be the proceeds from unlawful activities.

Ubu had been remanded for seven days by the Kota Kinabalu Magistrate’s Court on Saturday.

The Risda land deal was investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in 2017 and 2018 and Ubu was not in Sabah when the agency sought him to assist in its probe.

During mitigation today, Ubu’s counsel Zahir Shah said his client was unaware that he was a wanted man and that he was living abroad when MACC announced it was looking for him in January 2018.

He said Ubu had travelled out of Sabah since February 2017.

Zahir also told the court Risda would withdraw the police report against Ubu if he paid the RM15 million along with interest.

He said Ubu had done so in three instalments amounting to RM18 million between the end of 2019 and early 2020.

Sessions judge Abu Bakar Manat granted Ubu bail of RM1 million, with RM700,000 to be deposited immediately and the balance by next Monday, with his wife and son as sureties.

He also ordered Ubu to report to the MACC’s office here every two weeks, and for his passport to be impounded until disposal of his case.

Bakar fixed Aug 4 for case management.

Faliq Bashiruddin of MACC prosecuted the case.

The Risda land deal is also reported to be linked to the Sabah Infrastructure Development Minister Peter Anthony when he was an NGO leader.

Anthony recently claimed trial to five charges of money laundering and accepting proceeds of illegal activities totalling RM8.75 million between 2014 and 2016.

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