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RM1.5bil siphoned off over six years

KOTA KINABALU: For six years between 2009 and 2015, a total of RM1.5bil was siphoned off from federal projects worth RM7.5bil, depriving the rural poor of water supply, electricity and roads.
A group of politicians, businessmen and civil servants are believed to have systematically siphoned out a full 20% of the funds meant for projects for the rural poor, according to graftbusters.
“We are investigating in greater detail the people involved in the (network) of deals,” MACC chief commissioner Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad said after being briefed at the Sabah MACC office on the ongoing probe.
In the centre of the investigations is Parti Warisan Sabah vice-president Datuk Peter Anthony, 46, a key ally of former Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, who quit Umno in 2015 to form Parti Warisan Sabah.
A 52-year-old contractor has also been arrested here while a third suspect, a 40-year-old woman who was the deputy secretary for infrastructure at the ministry, was arrested in Putrajaya.
Both men were ordered to be remanded for five days by the magistrate’s court.
The woman was remanded for six days by a court in Putrajaya.
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Com­mission (MACC) deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki said they were also investigating some 60 companies given rural projects for water supply, electricity and roads in Sabah.
Some of the companies have folded up or could not be located but he did not disclose how many directors or owners of companies have been questioned.
“We need to do a lot of work.
“We are deploying officers to search for witnesses,” he said, adding that the probe might take some time.
“We are looking into projects which were not completed and not in accordance to specifications as well,” he told reporters when met outside the Sabah MACC office yesterday.
On a question whether any senior political personality was being targeted for the probe, he replied that they were not targeting any specific personality but would call up anyone believed to be connected to the projects.
He said they suspected that contractors allegedly gave bribes to certain parties in securing the projects.
Under procedures in awarding the projects from federal funds, Azam said the federal side would appoint its own contractors and follow its own procedures.
He explained that the latest investigations came about after information was provided by whistleblowers that was similar to the investigations carried out at about the same time last year on the Sabah Watergate scandal.
In the Sabah Water Department scandal, former Sabah Water director Ag Mohd Tahir Mohd Talib, 55, his wife Fauziah Ag Piut, 52, and the Sabah Finance Ministry’s technical and engineering adviser Lim Lam Beng, 63, were accused of laundering RM61.48mil and owning luxury goods from illegal activities.
Their case will be heard in court from Feb 5 to March 22.
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