MB’s ex-staff hit with graft charges

Day in court: Muhamad Sobri (centre) leaving the Sessions Court in Alor Setar. — Bernama

ALOR SETAR: Two former senior officials linked to the Kedah Mentri Besar have been charged with corruption amounting to a total of RM5.4mil over rare earth element (REE) mining.

Muhamad Sobri Osman, 63, a former chief executive of Kedah Mentri Besar Inc (MBI Kedah) claimed trial at the Sessions Court in Alor Setar to soliciting and accepting gratification in connection to an REE mining venture.

Mohamad Hilmi Abdul Wahab, 50, a former political secretary to the Mentri Besar, meanwhile, was charged in a Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court with soliciting and accepting bribes, also in connection with the REE project.

Both pleaded not guilty.

Muhamad Sobri was charged before Judge Rohatul Akmal Abdullah with soliciting gratification of RM4mil from one John Abad Pe, from Kumpulan Perlombongan REE Sdn Bhd, as an incentive for him to help the company carry out joint venture REE mining through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the company and MBI Kedah.

The offence was allegedly committed at a hotel in Hatyai, Thailand, on May 20 this year.

The prosecution requested to apply the provision under Section 66 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act (MACC) 2009 which provides for any citizen and permanent resident of Malaysia who commits an offence abroad to be prosecuted in the country.

Muhamad Sobri was also charged with accepting gratification of RM1mil in cash from John Abad Pe through Liyana Mamat@Khalid as an inducement to help Kumpulan Perlombongan REE carry out joint venture REE mining in Kedah through an MOU between the company and MBI Kedah.

Day in court: Mohamad Hilmi (centre) arriving at the court building in Kuala Lumpur. — BernamaDay in court: Mohamad Hilmi (centre) arriving at the court building in Kuala Lumpur. — Bernama

The offence was allegedly committed in the parking lot of Wisma Darul Aman, Jalan Tunku Bendahara, here on May 29.

Mohamad Hilmi was charged before Judge Suzana Hussin with soliciting a cash bribe of RM250,000 from REE Mining Group director Liyana Mamat @ Khalid, 40, through Syed Muhammad Syed Aluvi, 34.

It was as an inducement for the then political secretary to Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor to help the company get approval for its application for an REE mining licence and exploration licence in Kedah.

The offence was allegedly committed at Sunway Kiara Hills, Taman Sri Hartamas in Kuala Lumpur, on July 4.

He was also charged with receiving RM150,000 from Liyana for the same purpose at a restaurant in Sri Hartamas Village on July 11.

Muhamad Sobri was allowed bail of RM100,000 with one surety while Mohamad Hilmi was granted bail of RM45,000 with one surety.

The two of them were ordered to surrender their passports, report to the MACC office every month, and not intimidate witnesses in the case. Muhamad Sobri’s case has been set for mention on Jan 22 next year while Mohamad Hilmi’s case will be heard on Jan 12.

Both men were charged under Section 16(a)(A) of the MACC Act (Act 694) which provides imprisonment for up to 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the sum or value of the gratification – where such gratification is capable of being valued or is of a pecuniary nature – or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

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