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Friday, January 20, 2017

Sabah Water Dept director and wife’s bail reduced to half

KOTA KINABALU - Former Sabah Water Department (SWD) director Ag Mohd Tahir Ag Talib and his wife Fauziah Piut who are accused of money laundering successfully got their RM12 million combined bail reduced by half during their appeal today.

The High Court here reduced the RM10 million bail for Ag Mohd Tahir to RM5 million, with RM2 million to be fully deposited. Fauziah’s bail is now RM1 million from RM2 million, with RM500,000 to be fully deposited. Both have to name two local sureties each to pay the remaining amount if should they abscond.

“I also want to add the condition that both have to report to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission office here once every fortnight,” said Justice Ravinthran Paramaguru.

Ravinthran said he had considered the arguments of both the accused, and had agreed that the former bail was set in accordance to the gravity of the crime and with sound considerations.

“The correct principles were applied. But there were maybe one or two considerations which were not valid in this case — such as the possibility of tampering with the witness,” he said.

Overall, he said that bail in high amounts is predominantly imposed to secure the attendance of the accused.

“It doesn’t need to be at a percentage or in accordance to the subject matter. It just needs to be sufficient to ensure attendance of the accused “ he said.

The husband and wife accused were unable to raise the initial bail of RM12 million and have been locked up at the Kota Kinabalu central prison complex since they were charged for money laundering activities amounting to RM61.48 million in cash and bank savings as well as the unlawful possession of luxury products.

Lawyer for the accused PJ Pereira said that although the new amount was still on “the higher end,” it was fair. The lawyer said the accused would keep collecting said amount.

He had earlier asked for the bail to be reduced by 90 per cent from RM10 million to RM1 million for Ag Mohd Tahir, and from RM2 million to RM200,000 for Fauziah.

Deputy public prosecutor or the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Muhamad Anas Mahadzir said that the bail, at RM5 million, was still one of the highest ever set in the country.

Earlier, Justice Ravinthran halted proceedings when the couple failed to turn up in court due to an administrative mix-up. He insisted that the two be present in the criminal hearing and adjourned the session to the afternoon.

Muhamad Anas said that the MACC had not realised they could bring the couple to court on an online “order to produce” application and thought they needed a hard copy of the order.

On December 29, Ag Mohd Tahir, 54, and Fauziah, 51, along with former SWD deputy director Lim Lam Peng were charged with 37 counts of misappropriating infrastructure funds.

Ag Mohd Tahir was charged with eight counts of possession of over RM56.9 million in cash and in four bank accounts; two counts of possessing six luxury cars; one count of possessing 86 watches of various brands; and one count of being directly involved in a RM14,000 cash transaction to Cristine Fiona M. Ponsoi. The charges were under Section 4(1)(b) and 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act.

Fauziah was charged under Section 4(1)(b) with 18 counts of possession of over RM2.2 million in 18 different bank accounts in Sabah and one count of possession of 93 bags of various brands that were allegedly proceeds from illegal activities.

The couple were also jointly charged under Section 4(1)(b) under two counts for possession of 575 pieces of gold jewellery and 346 other forms of jewellery.

Former SWD deputy director Lim Lam Beng, 62, also claimed trial to the possession of RM2.38 million in proceeds from illegal activities. His bail was fixed at RM1 million.

The three cases will come up for re-mention on February 28 next year.

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