Jerantut forest officer gets jail, RM15,000 fine for graft

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KUANTAN, Sept 19 — The Sessions Court here sentenced a Jerantut district forest officer to three months’ jail and a fine of RM15,000 after he pleaded guilty to five alternative charges of accepting bribes amounting to RM340,000 from a logging company since July 2016.

The accused Zainal Abidin Maskon, 33, made the plea after the charge was read out before Judge Datuk Habibah Mohamed Yusof under Section 165 of the Penal Code which provided a maximum jail term of two years or fine or both.

He allegedly received for himself a sum of RM340,000 from P&K Trading Company manager, Yiang Kwai Seng who is known to have a connection with his official work involving the logging licence application at the Tekam Forest Reserve and Tekai Forest Reserve in Mukim Tembeling, Jerantut owned by Yayasan Pahang and Bakat Bijak Sdn Bhd.

The accused was charged with committing the offence at Malayan Banking Berhad and Maybank Malaysia Berhad’s Kuantan branch on July 1, 2016, Jan 24 and June 21 totalling RM340,000.

In his appeal, the accused, who was represented by Hon Kai Ping, Datuk Ng See Teong and Muhammad Irwan Bidin, asked the court to impose a light sentence as it was a first offence and the accused was remorse with the offence committed.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission deputy public prosecutor Mohamad Fadhly Mohd Zamry called on the court to impose a heavy sentence as the accused had jeopardised the public’s trust in the Pahang Forestry Department.

“The accused’s act of greed has also affected the environment and the natural resources of the area involved, and even cash amounting to RM47,000 was also found in the office during the raid on Sept 11,” he said.

In the same proceedings, the court was informed that the accused also had a joint account with the owner of the logging company and unit trust amounting to RM6.09 million.

In this regard, Mohamad Fadly applied for the accused’s ownership rights over the cash to be stripped while the RM6.09 million would be forfeited in a separate proceeding later.

The three-month jail sentence was to run concurrently from the date the accused was arrested on Sept 11 this year and another five months’ jail if he failed to pay the RM15,000 fine.

Earlier, the accused with his wife and three others, the owner and manager of a logging company and a forest ranger were remanded for six days on Sept 12 to facilitate investigations into the case.

However, the other four suspects were released today. — Bernama

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