Ex-aide to former tourism minister pleads not guilty to bribery charge

KUALA LUMPUR: A former senior private secretary to an ex-Tourism Minister has been charged at the Sessions Court here with 18 counts of corruption involving more than RM3mil relating to the ministry’s branding and advertising contracts.

Mohd Saifullah Mohd Minggu @ Mohd Hisham, 29, pleaded not guilty after the charges were read out here on Wednesday (Aug 19).

According to the first until the 14th charge sheets, Saifullah allegedly accepted bribes of RM150,000, RM500,000, RM500,000, RM50,000, RM475,000, RM50,000, RM200,000, RM96,500, RM100,000, RM220,000, RM130,000, RM100,000, RM100,000 and RM100,000 from Ronald Seto Kong Seng, 48, who is the owner of Syarikat Inter Bev Network Sdn Bhd.

The monies were said to be a reward for the accused to help the company win three tenders in creative branding and advertising space from the ministry.

For the 15th until 17th charges, Saifullah was accused of soliciting and receiving RM20,015 in bribes from Seto for the deposit and rental of a unit at Vipod Residences, Jalan Kia Peng, and receiving another RM5,500 for rent at the same unit.

For the 18th charge, the accused allegedly received RM232,000 from Seto for the same purpose of helping the company obtain the contract.

The offences were allegedly committed between Jan 19 and July 29, 2019.

The charges under Section 16(a)(B) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 carries up to 20 years imprisonment and a fine of no less than five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

Saifullah's fiancee Nurfadziana Abdul Kadir, 28, was also hauled to the court for allegedly abetting him in receiving the RM232,000.

She pleaded not guilty to the offence.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Farah Yasmin Salleh did not offer bail for Saifullah.

She said an MACC investigating officer stated in an affidavit that it was difficult to track down the accused.

Lawyer Md Yunus Shariff, who represented both the accused, however, said his client had surrendered himself to the MACC.

He asked for a lower bail on grounds that his client was unemployed.

Sessions Court judge Azman Ahmad fixed bail at RM200,000 in one surety for Saifullah and RM100,000 in one surety for Nurfadziana.

The two were also ordered to surrender their passports and to report monthly to the MACC.

The case is set for mention on Sept 23.

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