Freezing parties’ bank accounts not new

PETALING JAYA: The move by the authorities to freeze the bank accounts of political parties is not a new measure.

In 2018, the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) task force revealed that 408 bank accounts of political parties and NGOs – with over RM1.1bil in them – were frozen.

Some of the accounts belonged to Umno, which involved the freezing of the bank accounts of the main Umno headquarters as well as the Selangor party office by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Com-mission (MACC).

The Johor Umno accounts were similarly frozen by the commission.

In 2020, however, the accounts were unfrozen after the government failed to stay a High Court’s decision that dismissed its 1MDB-linked forfeiture suit against Umno, another Barisan Nasional component party and two other private entities involving more than RM194mil.

This meant the frozen monies had to be returned to the respondents as ordered by the High Court in its earlier decision in February of that year.

The bank account of the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) headquarters was also frozen in 2018, with president Prof Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian saying the party was notified of this through a bank letter.

Sim said he was, however, unaware if this was in relation to the 1MDB probe as there were no reasons stated in the letter.

In 2019, Sabah Upko too had its accounts frozen following 1MDB-related investigations.

This saw the party later returning the RM1mil it received from former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s account that has been linked to the 1MDB scandal.

Former president Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau said the party returned the money a month before the MACC began its civil forfeiture suit to recover roughly RM270mil from some 41 entities under the Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.

He added that the RM1mil was also kept in a fixed deposit account.

Several PAS leaders also had their bank accounts frozen in 2019, along with their assets seized in connection with the 1MDB probe.

Yesterday, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia sources said the party’s accounts were frozen by the MACC, believed to be linked to investigations related to misuse of Covid-19 funds.

MACC Chief Commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki confirmed the freezing, adding that the investigation was carried out under the MACC Act 2009 and the Money Laundering Act.

On Jan 30, audited accounts of Bersatu in the 2020 and 2021 financial year, posted by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s former private secretary Datuk Dr Marzuki Mohamad, showed that the party had a balance of RM64.6mil in 2021 and RM28.4mil in 2020.

In 2021, Bersatu received RM148.1mil consisting of donations which made up of RM146.6mil, while others were various forms of membership fees.

In the previous year, Bersatu also received RM109mil, which consisted of RM108.2mil in donations and various forms of membership fees.

For those accusing Bersatu of receiving RM4bil of the RM92.5bil from the Economic Stimulus package, Marzuki said they could look into the party’s 2020 and 2021 audited account report.

“The audit was tabled during Bersatu’s annual general assembly (AGM).

“It was also filed with the Registrar of Societies (ROS) and it is a public document,” said Marzuki.

He added that Bersatu’s 2022 audited financial reports would be tabled in its AGM on March.

“Let’s see whether there’s RM4bil,” Marzuki said.

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