Already reeling from a spate of scandals, the revelation that foreign authorities have been scrutinising the bank accounts of some well-connected Malaysians adds a new twist to the power struggle in the country.
(FMT) - The spotlight on large sums of unaccountable money linked to Chief Minister Musa Aman going in and out of bank accounts overseas is threatening to crack open the Barisan Nasional’s “fixed deposit” state of Sabah.
Allegations and investigations of shady timber deals and money laundering may be the proverbial ‘last straw’ to shatter the ruling coalition’s hopes of hanging on to power.
Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has announced that investigations into the alleged money laundering by Sabah timber tycoon Michael Chia has been completed and handed to the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
“The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has conducted investigations into the Michael Chia case which is linked to the Sabah chief minister.
“It has been completed and presented to the AGC for study and a decision,” Najib said in a written reply in parliament this week, adding that the anti-graft body received full co-operation from its Hong Kong counterparts, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), which triggered the investigation in 2008.
But Sabahans are not holding their breath on whether action will be taken by AG Abdul Gani Patail.
When Swiss global financial services giant, UBS Ag confirmed that large sums of money were channeled into the bank accounts of family members of Musa and his cronies, Sabah Umno members and their BN coalition colleagues began to squirm.
Already reeling from a spate of other scandals, a stagnating economy as well as being under fire for cracking down harshly on rallies demanding free and fair elections, the revelation that foreign authorities have been scrutinising the bank accounts of some well-connected Malaysians adds a new twist to the power struggle taking shape in the country.
Scandal not new
The ‘funny money’ allegedly comes from kickbacks from the illegal flow of timber out of Sabah.
That, not all of the state’s enormous wealth is accounted for has long been suspected.
That some of it is being siphoned out to line certain pockets has enraged many especially after a World Bank report showed that the state remains the poorest in the country.
The money-laundering scandal is not new. It has simmered since late 2008 after Chia, was arrested in Hong Kong as he was about to board a flight with a bagful of cash said to total SG$16 million.
Chia was immediately linked to Musa but the Chief Minister denied knowing the man, denied any wrongdoing and, it appeared after a period of silence, the trail of shady deals and international money-laundering at the highest levels was buried.
That is until about two months ago.
It resurfaced with a vengeance with the release of new documents by online news portal Sarawak Report again fingering Musa and again forcing him to deny any involvement in the controversy.
He branded the reports a fabrication and implied the supporting documents and receipts uploaded by the news portal were forgeries.
The news portal earlier this month revealed documents which were tendered by UBS Ag in submissions during a current court case in Singapore relating to the series of deals.
These documents, it said, supported their earlier report of questionable timber deals originating out of Sabah.