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Sept 18 ruling for trio in RM51.7mil Sabah 'Watergate' case
Published on: Friday, May 17, 2024
By: FMT
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Sept 18 ruling for trio in RM51.7mil Sabah 'Watergate' case
Former Sabah water department director Ag Tahir Ag Talib is standing trial on charges of money laundering and unlawful possession of luxury items. (Bernama pic)
PETALING JAYA: The sessions court in Kota Kinabalu has set Sept 18 to rule on whether former Sabah water department director Ag Tahir Ag Talib and two others will be required to enter their defence on money laundering charges involving RM51.7 million between 2005 and 2016.

Deputy public prosecutor Mahadi Jumaat told trial judge Abu Bakar Manat that the prosecution was closing its case after calling 46 witnesses.

He said the prosecution would be offering 38 witnesses to the accused if the court finds that a prima facie case has been established.

They include former Sabah chief minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan and ex-deputy chief minister Raymond Tan.

Yesterday, Abu Bakar fixed Sept 3 to hear oral submissions by all parties.

The trial began on May 7, 2018 but was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and several interlocutory applications filed by the accused.

On Wednesday, investigating officer Abdullah Sani A Latib revealed that the purported bribes totalling RM51.7 million were part of a state budget allocation of RM2.1 billion over the same period.

Tahir, his wife Fauziah Piut and the department’s former deputy director, Lim Lam Beng, were jointly tried for alleged money laundering offences involving cash and bank savings, and for being unlawfully in possession of various luxurious items.

The former director faces 11 charges and Fauziah 19 charges under Section 4 (1)(b) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (Amla).

Tahir and Fauziah are also jointly facing two charges under Section 4 (1)(b) of Amla, while Tahir faces one other charge under Section 4(1)(a).

The alleged offences were said to have been committed by Tahir and his wife at an office in Kota Kinabalu, a house in Sembulan, at several bank branches, at a condominium in Sulaman, all in Sabah, and in Kuala Lumpur between Oct 4 and Nov 4, 2016.

Lim, who faces four charges under Section 4(1)(b) of Amla, was alleged to have been in possession of cash amounting to RM2.38 million at MACC’s Jalan UMS office and at a house in Kota Kinabalu between Oct 13 and Nov 8, 2016.

Counsel Priskila Akwila Sinem and Fareez Salleh represented Tahir and Fauziah.

Counsel Tan Hock Chuan, Baldev Singh, Karpaljit Singh and Kelvin Wong acted for Lim.

The prosecution was also represented by deputy public prosecutor Haresh Prakash Somiah.

Two years ago, another former deputy director at the centre of one of the country’s biggest corruption cases walked away a free man after being cleared of 146 money laundering charges.

Teo Chee Kong, who was acquitted by Abu Bakar, later became a prosecution witness.

At the time, the prosecution informed the court that Teo had paid a RM30 million compound fine to the government.

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