60% of project allocation stolen

Under scrutiny: MACC sources said they had identified 40 witnesses, mainly state Water Department officials, to have their statements recorded.

Under scrutiny: MACC sources said they had identified 40 witnesses, mainly state Water Department officials, to have their statements recorded.

KOTA KINABALU: It’s shocking. Sixty sen out of every ringgit allocated by the Federal Government for water projects was siphoned off into the pockets of many individuals.

A senior state government official said only 40% of the federal allocations for water reached the ground in Sabah, and the rest of the money seemed to have been pocketed by individuals.

The official, who has knowledge of developments in the investigations involving the two senior Sabah Water Department officers, said there seemed to be an unprecedented scale of corruption involving the siphoning of federal allocations amounting to RM3.3bil for water projects in Sabah since 2010.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has arrested Sabah Water Department director Ag Tahir Ag Talib, 54, and his deputy Teo Chee Kong, 52, and seized over RM115mil, including some RM57mil in cash, from their houses and office.

Two others, including Teo’s older brother – a 55-year-old businessman – and his accountant have been arrested since Tuesday for investigations into what is possibly the country’s biggest abuse of power, bribery and money laundering case.

It is believed the tender process was fixed so that proxy companies would get the project at inflated prices.

In many cases, the projects were broken up into smaller parcels of up to RM100,000 to avoid the tender process.

The director or his deputy can sign off projects below RM100,000.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki has confirmed that there are 38 companies owned by family and friends of the two detained civil servants.

It is learnt that 17 of the companies were connected to the director while 21 were linked to his deputy.

These companies are said to have been used as fronts to take part in limited tenders to secure the projects.

This has been happening over the last five years with the amount adding up, sources explained, but declined to reveal the specific details of the projects.

MACC sources said they had identified 40 witnesses, mainly state Water Department officials involved in processing the contracts and contractors, to have their statements recorded.

A special team of 70 MACC officers are continuing to record statements, and scan through documents and the money trail.

They are also getting the director and his deputy to declare all their assets under Section 36 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Act 2009 as investigators want to obtain comprehensive details of their wealth.

So far, MACC has recovered some RM57mil in cash found from their offices, homes and safe boxes, frozen RM60mil in bank accounts of the duo including that of a company they were linked to.

They also seized 19.3kg of gold jewellery worth about RM3.64mil from the duo, and some 97 designer ladies handbags worth RM500,000 used by the director’s wife.

They also recovered some 127 land titles from Teo.

MACC is also working to repatriate funds banked into an account in a neighbouring country. – Star Online

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