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KUALA LUMPUR, June 9 — Umno’s Tan Sri Musa Aman was fully acquitted today of nearly four dozen charges of corruption and money laundering related to the award of logging contracts during his tenure as Sabah’s chief minister, according to a news report.
News portal Malaysiakini reported that High Court judge Muhammad Jamil Hussin made his decision after Musa’s team applied earlier for the 46 charges to be stricken out.
According to a separate report by The Edge Markets, deputy public prosecutor Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid informed the court that the Attorney General’s Chambers was withdrawing all the charges against the Umno leader
“Yes, all charges have been withdrawn and Tan Sri (Musa) has been acquitted and discharged altogether,” defence lawyer Francis Ng was quoted as saying in the report.
This is the second high-profile discharge of personalities linked to the previous Barisan Nasional administration since the new Perikatan Nasional government was installed in March.
Last month, Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz — the stepson of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak — was conditionally discharged of laundering over US$248 million (or equivalent to over RM1.075 billion based on the currency exchange rate on May 14 when he was conditionally discharged) in funds linked to the 1MDB scandal.
No explanation has yet been given for the AGC’s decision to withdraw all 46 charges.
Musa was charged in November 2018 with 35 counts of bribery involving US$63.3 million (equivalent to RM270.13 million by today’s currency exchange rate) and was charged in March 2019 with 16 counts of money laundering.
However, five of the 35 counts of bribery charges were withdrawn by the prosecution in October 2019, leaving 46 criminal charges in total.
The bribes were allegedly inducement to give timber concessions contracts to 16 companies.
The corruption charges were proffered under Section 11(a) of the Anti-Corruption Act 1997 that carries a maximum imprisonment of 20 years and a fine not less than five times the amount of bribe or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.
The money laundering charges related to US$37.8 million and US$2.5 million he was accused of committing more than 10 years ago.
The charges were framed under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison as well as a fine of no less than five times the amount of illegal proceeds or RM5 million — whichever is higher — upon conviction.