KOTA KINABALU: On the first day, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) seized RM114mil worth of assets – RM53.7mil in cold cash from two senior Sabah Water Department officials. Six days later, they traced RM30mil more stashed in foreign banks and another RM30mil in land titles.
In a shocking corruption case involving the department’s director Ag Tahir Ag Talib, 54, and his deputy Teo Chee Kong, 52, investigations led to the money trail in Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.
Both men, who were detained on Oct 4, have allegedly amassed nearly RM200mil from a massive and well-structured scheme.
They are being investigated for alleged abuse of power and money-laundering linked to contracts for federal-funded projects given out by the Water Department in Sabah since 2010.
Initial investigations showed that the deputy director moved about RM29mil to banks abroad while the director did the same with about RM1mil, sources said.
The MACC, which also found 127 land titles for housing, agriculture and commercial, valued them at RM30mil through the Land and Survey Department.
Investigators were also unearthing more incriminating evidence, said the sources, adding that other senior staff of the department could also be party to the scam involving RM3.3bil from federal allocations for the state since 2010.
“More arrests are expected. It may cripple the department as it also involves several other key personnel,” said one of the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Apart from detecting cash stashed overseas and land titles, the investigators also seized RM56.3mil in cash, nine vehicles worth RM2.7mil, an assortment of jewellery worth RM3.64mil as well as designer handbags worth RM500,000.
The MACC has frozen RM62mil in bank accounts.
A source claimed that Ag Tahir kept most of his assets in cash, while Teo stashed his in banks and investments.
When the men were arrested, anti-graft officials found RM53mil in cash – the biggest amount seized by MACC – from their homes and offices.
Apparently, Ag Tahir hid cash amounting to RM45mil at his home at Graceville Condominium here.
MACC deputy commissioner for operations Datuk Azam Baki confirmed that efforts were being made to recover the money kept overseas through the Mutual Legal Assistance treaty.
He said there could be more arrests as investigators recorded statements from contractors as well as the families of the two officials who were believed to be involved in the companies undertaking the projects.
The eight-day remand for the two officials ends today, but MACC is expected to apply for an extension.
Two others, including Teo’s elder brother and his company accountant, were also arrested.
Some 40 witnesses have been questioned so far in connection with the projects allegedly tendered out to family-linked companies.
Yesterday, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman called on all parties to stop speculating.
“This is an important investigation. Let the MACC do their job,” he said in a statement.
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