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Richard Riot questioned for 10 hours

PUTRAJAYA: Even as a Cabinet minister was questioned for nearly 10 hours late into the night, the anti-graft body said more officials from the Human Resources Ministry will be summoned to assist in investigations into the “missing” RM40mil from the Skills Development Fund Corp (SDFC).

Accompanied by his bodyguard, Datuk Seri Richard Riot arrived at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters in Putrajaya at about 10am yesterday before being led into the building.

The Human Resources Minister only emerged at about 8pm.

Despite looking tired, Riot managed to flash a smile at the waiting pressmen.

“I’m here to assist MACC’s investigations,” he said when asked by reporters.

Riot said no documents were handed over to the MACC, saying he came “empty-handed”.

Asked why the questioning took such a long time, he said: “Biasalah” (It’s normal) before being whisked into his car.

Serious talk: Riot leaving MACC’s headquarters in Putrajaya after giving his statement.
Serious talk: Riot leaving MACC’s headquarters in Putrajaya after giving his statement. 

Earlier in the day, several people, believed to be his officers and lawyers, were also seen in the vicinity while he was being questioned.

It is learnt that the 66-year-old Serian MP was scheduled to take a flight to Kuching at around 4.30pm but had to cancel the plan.

It is also understood that the MACC has yet to complete taking his statement but due to the long day, opted to release him.

The MACC had summoned Riot there to assist in the ongoing probe into the misappropriation of the funds.

The questioning came a day after his 61-year-old political secretary was remanded for six days.

The suspect, a Datuk and member of the Sarawak United People’s Party from the Serian branch, was picked up on Wednesday. So far, five people have been detained over the case.

The others are the SDFC’s chief executive, 58, who is a Datuk, SDFC secretary, 34, a 32-year-old assistant financial officer and a 38-year-old company director who carries the “Dr” title.

One of the suspects is said to be an office-bearer with a state Umno division.

All the suspects are said to have collaborated with the company director to siphon the allocations provided by the Government over the past two years.

SDFC is a statutory body under the ministry. It is responsible for providing financial assistance in the form of loans to individuals such as school leavers, graduates and others interested in pursuing skills training at public or private institutions.

In Ipoh, MACC chief commissioner Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad said more people would be called up when the need arises.

Dzulkifli said this was because the processing of documents involving the disbursement of funds had gone through “more than one person”.

“There may be more. We’ll call others suspected to be involved to give their statements.

“This also depends on the statements already taken from the course of our investigations,” he told a press conference after the launching of the anti-corruption themed murals as part of its “Kembara Jelajah Anti Rasuah 2017” programme at the state headquarters.

On Riot’s presence at the MACC, Dzulkifli said the minister was only there to give a statement.

“We’ll now go through his and also his political secretary’s statements.

“If the need arises, we’ll be calling him (Riot) back again,” he said.

Earlier this month, it was reported that some RM40mil from the funds were believed to have been siphoned off by those tasked with utilising it for the benefit of the people.

It is understood that the suspects had collaborated with a company to siphon the allocation provided by the Government.

The misappropriation of funds was said to have taken place since last year.

In 2016, the Government allocated RM35mil to the corporation and another RM40mil this year to carry out training programmes.

Initial investigations showed RM15mil was said to have been siphoned off last year.

Another RM25mil is believed to have been misappropriated this year.

MACC officers were investigating that one of the suspects had allowed 15 of his registered companies to manage the training programmes.

But none of them were equipped with the expertise to conduct such training programmes.