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Thursday, October 5, 2017

MACC raids 15 locations involving Rural and Regional Development Ministry in theft case

More than RM150mil in cash has been seized in a day as anti-graft officers started a probe into the alleged embezzlement of funds from a ministry.

The investigators swooped in on 15 locations in Sabah during an operation which began at 10.30am yesterday.

At press time, the investigators were still compiling information to be sent to the top leadership of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

However, it is understood that bank accounts with huge deposits, cash in various denominations and stacks of documents, including financial statements from several companies, were seized by raiding officers.

Several directors and staff of the companies were still being questioned yesterday.

It is expected that more raids and seizures will be carried out in the coming days.

The MACC will also be calling in people suspected of being involved in the case, including the senior officials at the ministry.

Sources said that some of companies which were awarded the contracts for the projects would appoint sub-contractors to carry them out.

In the process, they would receive a large commission for allowing the names of their companies to be used to secure the jobs, but without having the necessary expertise to do them.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Seri Azam Baki confirmed that the investigation was underway.

However, he declined to reveal the ministry involved.

“We will look at every detail closely. We don’t want to miss out anything.

“Action will be taken against those responsi­ble for misappropriating government funds,” he said yesterday.

He did not rule out the possibility of arrests being made soon.

It is understood that the case involves the Rural and Regional Development Ministry.

Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob refused to comment on the matter, saying that he was unaware of the investigation.

According to reports, funds to carry out projects meant to help the rural community were siphoned off by certain officials believed to be working in cahoots with several companies.

These projects included those to improve basic amenities and infrastructure, such as the upgrading of water and electricity supplies, as well as the repair and maintenance of roads in areas where the hardcore poor lived.

The culprits are believed to have pocketed more than RM100mil.

It is learnt that the thefts, which occurred over several years, had gone undetected.

“Before this, a senior official from this mi­­nistry was investigated but it was over a different corruption case.

“There is no link to this one but what is startling to investigators is the amount involved. It is very high,” said a source.

This is the second biggest corruption case to hit Sabah after the state water department scandal where RM3.3bil meant for projects was siphoned off through a network of companies, starting in 2010.

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