Monday, January 18, 2021

Malaysian prosecutors drop money laundering charges against ex-PM’s ally

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Former Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman was on Tuesday (Jun 9) acquitted of 46 charges of corruption and money laundering in connection with timber concession contracts in Sabah.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Azhar Abdul Hamid told the court that the prosecution had withdrawn all the charges made against Musa Aman in the two cases of corruption and money laundering.

Defence lawyer Francis Ng Aik Guan said both the cases need an ending and urged the court to acquit and discharge his client of all charges.

Judge Muhammad Jamil Hussin acquitted and discharged Musa of the 46 charges.

“The accused is hereby acquitted and discharged. The bail money will be refunded to the bailer and the dates set for trial earlier will be vacated,” the judge said.

The trial was initially scheduled for September, October and November this year, starting on Sep 14. The judge also allowed the defence to withdraw the applications on legal issues pertaining to his client’s money laundering case.

Mr Ng said the two applications were withdrawn as his client has been acquitted by the court.

“We also extend our thanks to the prosecution for the decision,” Mr Ng said.

Musa, 69, was previously charged with 30 counts of corruption and 16 counts of money laundering relating to timber concessions in Sabah but was allowed bail of RM2 million (US$469,318) with two sureties for the two cases.

It had been alleged that the former Sabah Chief Minister and Sabah Foundation Board of Trustees chairman received US$50.1 million from eight logging concessionaires as an inducement to approve logging concessions to 16 companies.

He had been accused of committing the offences at eight banks and financial institutions in Hong Kong, China and Singapore between Dec 20, 2004, and Nov 6, 2008.

Anyone found guilty of corruption could face up to 20 years in prison and could be fined no less than five times the amount of the bribe, or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

Anyone found guilty of money laundering could be jailed for up to 15 years and fined no less than five times the amount of illegal proceeds, or RM5 million, whichever is higher.

According to The Star, Musa said what has happened to him was due to “political differences”.

He thanked the prosecution and the judiciary in a statement on Tuesday for its objectivity, professionalism, impartiality and conduct without prejudice in evaluating the facts of the case since it started two years ago, the Star reported.

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