KOTA KINABALU, June 9 ― Unable to raise the RM2 million bail, former Sabah Water Department director Ag Mohd Tahir Ag Talib attempted today to put up land titles in lieu of cash in his money laundering case.
In a rare turn of events, his counsel Mohd Nor Yusof told High Court judge Datuk Nurchaya Arshad that family members have only managed to raise RM500,000 in cash and are applying for the balance to be deposited via land title deeds worth at least RM2 million.
“We are not asking for a reduction in bail amount, just a variation in terms of mode of payment,” he said.
Last January, the Sessions Court reduced his bail from RM10 million to RM5 million, with RM2 million to be fully deposited with one local surety.
To allow time for the deputy public prosecutor Rozanna Abdul Hadi to submit a written response, Nurchaya set 3pm to hear her argument and to make a decision.
When Rozanna asked for the court to give more time to prepare a submission in reply to the application, Nurchaya said that the application was only a variation to the terms, and should not take long too reply to provided they had a licensed valuer, as the principles of bail were not meant to penalise the accused, but to ensure they showed up in court.
According to Mohd Nor, such cases of land titles used in lieu of cash were rare but not unheard of.
“There has been four such cases in Malaysia, but none in Sabah so far,” he said.
On December 29, Ag Mohd Tahir, 54 and his wife Fauziah Piut, 51, along with former SWD deputy director Lim Lam Peng were charged with a total of 37 counts of misappropriating infrastructure funds worth more than RM60 million under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act.
All three pleaded not guilty.
The high profile case involved the largest cash seizure in the country by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commision, worth some RM114 million.
Bail was initially set at RM10 million for Ag Mohd Tahir and RM2 million for Fauziah but was reduced by half in January. Fauziah was released shortly after while Ag Mohd Tahir remained behind bars.