Shafie’s ‘key ally’ arrested

Peter Anthony

Peter Anthony

KOTA KINABALU: A vice-president of Parti Warisan Sabah – described as a “key ally” of party president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal – has been arrested after being called in to give a statement to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Com­mission (MACC).

He is believed to be among three people arrested in connection with alleged fraud involving rural projects.

Sources close to the vice-president said several other businessmen were also called in by the MACC to have their statements recorded in connection with alleged fraud involving rural projects.

They said he was detained yesterday and is expected to be remanded today. There are three vice-presidents in Parti Warisan Sabah – Datuk Peter Anthony, Datuk Jaujan Sambakong and Junz Wong. The detained man is said to be Anthony.

Anthony had been in trouble with MACC in 2012 when graft-busters raided his office. He denied then that he was on the run from the MACC.

MACC sources had earlier said that investigators were looking into the supposed business associates of a former minister from Sabah in connection with the case.

The graft-buster had raided their offices and seized documents over the past few days, the sources said, adding that company directors and staff, as well as ministry officials, were being questioned over deals involving certain companies.

Bank accounts have also been frozen and investigators are going through the companies’ records.

They are said to be focusing on funds allegedly siphoned out of projects worth RM2bil, believed to have been given to proxy companies.

It was reported yesterday that more than RM150mil had been seized or frozen in the probe into alleged fraud involving development funds allocated to a ministry.

The sources said the companies allegedly received a hefty commission for letting their names be used to secure jobs – even if they lacked the expertise to handle them – and would then subcontract the projects.

Officials in cahoots with the companies would then allegedly siphon off their “cut”.

The sources revealed that the cases involved the Rural and Regional Development Ministry, which was given large federal budgets for rural development projects in Sabah and Sarawak over the years.

These projects included improvements to basic amenities and infrastructure such as the upgrading of water and electricity supply, as well as repairing and maintaining roads in areas where the hardcore poor lived.

The sources said the alleged embezzlement occurred over several years and went undetected until recently.

This is the second major investigation into alleged federal funding abuse after last year’s Sabah Water Department probe in which three people have been charged so far.

In Putrajaya, the ministry said it would extend its full cooperation to the MACC.

Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said he was made to understand the case was “an old one”.

“Nevertheless, we will assist MACC in whatever way we can. We will provide whatever they need, whether it is files or information,” he said.

Ismail Sabri said he was, however, unaware if MACC officers had visited the ministry as part of their investigation.

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