Sabah water graft scandal suspects released on bail

 |Oct 17, 2016
All suspects were released yesterday and today respectively on MACC bail.
All suspects detained on Oct 4 in connection with RM3.3 billion graft scandal have been released on MACC bail.

Three of the Sabah water graft scandal suspects have been released on bail by the Kota Kinabalu Magistrate Court today.

Magistrate Stephanie Sherron Abbie made the order in her chambers, granting bail to Sabah Water Department (JAS) deputy director of Teo Chee Kong, 52, his 55-year-old brother, who is a ‘Datuk’, and his brother’s accountant.

Teo and his ‘Datuk’ brother were released on a bail of RM100,000 with two sureties each while the accountant was released on a RM10,000 bail.

The trio’s release followed the release of JAS director Mohd Tahir Mohd Talib, 54, on bail yesterday.

Mohd Tahir, whose remand order ended on Oct 16, was released at the Kepayan police station at about 1pm on RM 500,000 bail with two sureties.

All of them however, were ordered to report every month to the MACC.

The four were detained by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on Oct 4 to facilitate investigations into alleged abuse of power and money laundering linked to federal-funded projects under JAS.

With the release of the four, a 62-year-old Finance Ministry adviser for technical and engineering matters in Sabah is the only left in MACC custody to facilitate further investigations.

The water graft scandal involving JAS projects since 2010 is said to be worth RM3.3bil.

During the raid, MACC seized RM114mil worth of assets, including RM53.7mil in cash stashed in houses and JAS office.

MACC also traced RM30mil stashed in foreign banks and another RM30mil worth of 127 land titles.

The Commission also seized nine vehicles worth RM2.7mil, jewellery worth RM3.64mil and designer handbags worth RM500,000.

Three JAS employees also surrendered about RM1mil allegedly taken in the process of approving water projects.

So far, 82 people, including contractors, families and department officials, had been questioned pertaining to the case which is MACC’s biggest graft case involving government officers.

Meanwhile, the state government is mum on the status of JAS director and deputy director, who were detained, remanded for 12 to 14 days and released this week in connection with a RM3.3 billion graft scandal.

Lawyers for the two officials, however, said that their clients had not received any official letters of transfer or suspension.

Thus, the duo would remain in their posts in the department.

“As far as my client is concerned he is still director,” said P.J. Pereira, counsel for Mohd Tahir.

Normally an order for suspension would be put in place only if a civil servant was charged.

It is left to the discretion of the state secretary to decide whether a person should be transferred to any other department or unit during investigations of a case.

Sabah MACC director Shaharom Nizam Abdul Manap said that it was up to the state agencies concerned to decide on the type of action to be taken against those under investigation.

He however, noted that it would be better if such a civil servant be asked to take “rest or leave” during the investigations.

 

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Murali is a contributor to MO. He advocates the principle of practising human rights with responsibility.