Sabah Progressive Party has lodged a police report over the 'clearance' of Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman of graft and money laundering allegations last week.
PETALING JAYA 14/10/2012: The clearance of Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman of any wrongdoing last week over money laundering and graft allegations involving RM40 million has continued to bewilder and anger opposition parties.
Among the latest is the youth wing of Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), whose members claimed that the government explanation that the money did not belong to Musa, but Sabah Umno, smacks of a deliberate cover up.
Lodging a police report over the matter on Friday, they urged the police to further investigate the origin of the RM40 million. They also questioned the need to smuggle the money out of Hong Kong and businessman Michael Chia’s relationship with Umno.
“If there is no connection (between Chia and Umno), why isn’t Umno managing the transaction?” asked the report.
Speaking to FMT, SAPP Youth chief Edward Dagul said that the party finds it hard to believe that the Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz has attempted to “swipe away such a serious case with such a simple sentence”.
“We are astonished that a federal minister is actually saying that Umno has that amount of money. And why has it got to go through Hong Kong? If it really is just a simple matter of Umno headquarters giving money to Sabah Umno, then why is it smuggled through Hong Kong, what is there to hide?
“The other thing is that the story has been out for four years, and suddenly after four years they changed their minds and changed the story. Why didn’t Musa Aman say this in the first place?”
“To us it is a cooked up story. It is an afterthought,” said Edward, who also asked whether the contribution was recorded in the Umno financial report if it was really above board.
Umno MP lashes out
Meanwhile, Sabah’s Kota Belud MP Abdul Rahman Dahlan strongly defended the government’s position, calling for the opposition to stop continuing to spin the issue after the case has been considered settled.
“What is the core business of Umno? It is a contribution from people for political activities. There is no law against anyone contributing money to political parties as long as they are accounted for.
“If I had RM1 billion and I like you and I gave you RM2 million, so what? As long as a receipt is given,” he said.
“We’ve been very patient in allowing the law to take it’s course. We were very quiet when letting the investigation and now when it is proven that he is innocent, not just by the MACC but also the ICAC, don’t jump and find another angle,” he said.
Abdul Rahman said that if opposition parties wanted to cry foul, they should also reveal their source of funding.
“Opposition, reveal your sources of income, how much have you collected from your donors. I have seen how Anwar (Ibrahim) in Permatang Pauh by-election threw money around. We (BN) were outnumbered, outspent, we were outmaneuvered in terms of logistics, campaign material, financially. Then, for every one flag we had, they had three,” he said.
Asked about the claim by opposition parties that the RM40 million amounted to ‘foreign money’, Abdul Rahman said:” This is ridiculous, they are just having fun accusing Umno of everything.”
Last Thursday, Parliament was told that MACC had cleared Musa of graft and money-laundering allegations after finding that the over S$16 million (RM40 million) was not meant for the chief minister’s personal use but for for Sabah Umno liaison body.
“It is not for the private use of the the chief minister,” Nazri said in a reply to Batu MP Tian Chua.
The minister had also said the Attorney-General’s Chambers had shelved the matter after finding “no element of corruption” in the case.
Caught in 2008
Nazri’s reply also stated that the Hong Kong ICAC took no further action in the case after the MACC finding, while the request for cooperation in a criminal matter lodged over the Swiss bank account has been withdrawn for the same reason.
The matter first surfaced in 2008 and was repeatedly raised by whistleblower site Sarawak Report.
Earlier this year, Sarawak Report published documents purportedly from the ICAC that showed that a Swiss bank account in the name of a lawyer in Sabah contained some US$30 million (RM92 million) and was allegedly being held for Musa.
The report claimed that a paper trail showed that millions in euros, US dollars, Hong Kong and Singapore dollars were channelled from several firms to a number of British Virgin Island companies and subsequently to the Swiss account.
The transactions were believed to have been managed by Hong Kong-based timber trader Chia who was later arrested and charged with money laundering after attempting to smuggle S$16 million (RM40 million) back to Malaysia.
(On Aug 14, 2008, the businessman, Michael Chia, was caught red-handed at the Hong Kong International Airport with Singapore currency worth RM40 million in his luggage before be could board a flight to Kuala Lumpur)
Investigations by both the ICAC and MACC was initiated after the Chia case but it was reported that AG Abdul Gani Patail had allegedly shelved files on the investigation and refused to prosecute over allegations that the Sabah chief minister had corruptly issued timber licences to his family worth tens of millions of ringgit.
Musa had previously accused Sarawak Report of defaming him, claiming the graft allegations were likely part of a conspiracy by his detractors who wanted to topple Barisan Nasional (BN) in the east Malaysian state.
Sarawak Report has linked the monies to timber kickbacks which it said were bound for Musa’s pockets for approving timber licences.