MACC arrests of Sabah officers give way to biggest seizure haul in history

An array of cash both ringgit and foreign currency, gold jewellery, land titles and luxury brand watches and handbags were seized from two high ranking state agency officials in a graft investigation. ― Picture by Julia Chan
An array of cash both ringgit and foreign currency, gold jewellery, land titles and luxury brand watches and handbags were seized from two high ranking state agency officials in a graft investigation. ― Picture by Julia Chan

KOTA KINABALU, Oct 5 ― The arrests of two top officers of a state agency here have resulted in the biggest haul in the history of seizures from individuals by any Malaysian enforcement agency.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki said a mind-boggling array of wealth were seized in a case which involves a director and deputy director of a utilities department, aged 51 and 54, together with the latter's brother ― a 55-year-old business man holding the title of “Datuk”.

The duo are allegedly involved in receiving some RM3.3 billion worth of kickbacks from awarding projects under their department to their cronies.

The agency seized cash totalling RM52 million (including foreign currency worth RM8.3 million), gold and precious stone jewellery, luxury brand watches, 94 branded handbags, nine luxury cars, folders containing 127 land grants from the houses and office of the two officers, which were displayed to the media in a press conference here today.

“Of the RM52 million cash, RM45 million was in the possession of the director, and RM7.2 million was from the deputy director,” he said.

Nine luxury cars including a Range Rover, Mercedes, Volvo, Lexus, Mazda, Audi, BMW, Fortuner and Ford Ranger were also seized, some of which was found with bags of RM5 million in them.

Six safe deposit boxes were also seized from  the two, one of which contained RM2.5 million while the rest have yet to be opened due to certain legal restrictions.

Several bank accounts belonging to the duo and their family members amounting to RM23 million were frozen, along with RM37 million in another account belonging to an accounting firm linked to the “Datuk”, bringing the total seizure to RM112 million.

“We also believe they have stored money in at least one neighbouring country and we are determined to track them down and return the money to the people,” said Azam.

According to their year-long investigation, the duo abused their power by awarding federal-approved infrastructure projects worth some RM3.3 billion under their department to companies belonging to their family members since 2010.

The investigation was the result of public tip offs which alerted the Macc to the duo's favouritism, causing the loss of business for many contractors.

Their activities was further helped with the help of the “Datuk”, who roped in his accountant to help hide the ill-gotten gains.

“Another RM37 million was seized from the accounts of the a company linked to the duo, bringing the total about to RM112 million,” he said.

All four were remanded for seven days in court earlier today for money laundering and corruption offences.

“We won’t hesitate to extend the remand if we cannot complete our investigations within the seven days,” he said, adding that the suspects have been cooperative with the authorities so far.

“We hope that anyone with information will come forward to help us with the case, which involves public funds and government officers,” he said.

Yesterday, it was reported that the the two officials were detained at their office in Kota Kinabalu by a team of MACC officers at about 9.15am.

The team seized cash worth RM3 million which were found stuffed inside a safe deposit box in the office of one of the suspects.

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