The Umno-led Barisan Nasional government’s attempt to “clear” Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman of allegations of money laundering after some RM40 million had floated up out of nowhere, has raised more questions of how political parties are funded, said State Reform Party (STAR).
The party’s deputy chairman, Daniel John Jambun, said many are now questioning the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz’s statement as to why businessman Michael Chia “contributed” a whopping RM40 million to Sabah Umno.
Nazri yesterday said that Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail had found “no elements of corruption” from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) probe on Musa regarding the RM40 million, which Chia was caught with red-handed in Hong Kong in 2008 as he was about to fly to Malaysia.
The media had reported then that Chia had allegedly told the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) that the RM40 million belonged to Musa.
Nazri yesterday said the money was only a “contribution” to Sabah Umno which is led by Musa.
“It is not for the private use of the the chief minister,” he said in a written reply to Batu MP Tian Chua’s earlier question in Parliament.
Speaking to FMT, Jambun said the question now to be asked is how and from where did the RM40 million originate and for what purpose.
“By saying it is just a contribution to Sabah Umno, did Nazri mean that Sabah Umno always gets such whopping contributions from businessmen?
“On top of that, could Nazri please enlighten us on how many years has Sabah Umno been receiving such contributions? Why was the money not channelled direct to the state government or NGOs instead?”
Jambun, who is also chairman of UK-based Borneo’s Plight in Malaysia Foundation (BoPi MaFo), also asked Nazri to reveal how much Umno has been receiving all these years from businessmen.
“If Sabah Umno got RM40 million in 2008, then this only raises further questions as to how much money Perak Umno, Selangor Umno, Pahang Umno, Malacca Umno and Kelantan Umno had been getting from businessmen,” Jambun said, adding that Nazri’s statement has opened a can of worms.
Musa denied links to Chia
He said while some would take Nazri’s statement at face value, the majority are stunned by the revelation.
Jambun also questioned if Nazri’s contention that the ICAC did not wish to pursue the issue was a fact.
“Even if Musa is cleared, does it mean that bringing in and out cash to the tune of RM40 million is legal here and in Hong Kong? How come no one from Sabah Umno has claimed that the money belongs to Sabah Umno before this?
“Why did Umno president Najib Tun Razak keep silent about this? And now [why] is Nazri compelled to ‘agree’ with Musa’s recent claim that the money was not his but belongs to Umno?” Jambun asked.
Online news portals in 2008 reported that Hong Kong authorities had launched an investigation into a major money-laundering operation following the detention of Chia who was caught with the bag of cash as he was about to leave the territory.
Earlier this year, Sarawak Report published documents purportedly from the ICAC that showed that a Swiss bank account in the name of a lawyer in Sabah contained some US$30 million (RM92 million) and was allegedly being held for Musa.
The report claimed that a paper trail showed that millions in euros, US dollars, Hong Kong and Singapore dollars were channelled from several firms to a number of British Virgin Island companies and subsequently to the Swiss account.
The transactions were believed to have been managed by Hong Kong-based timber trader Chia who was later arrested and charged with money laundering after attempting to smuggle S$16 million (RM40 million) back to Malaysia.
Musa has denied any link to Chia who, according to media reports, had allegedly told the Hong Kong authorities that the money belonged to Musa.
“I deny all these allegations. I wish to put it on record once again that I have no business association whatsoever with an individual named Michael Chia,” Musa said after the issue came to light and fingers were pointed at him as being involved.
Musa accused Sarawak Report of defaming him, claiming the graft allegations were likely part of a conspiracy by his detractors who wanted to topple Barisan Nasional in Sabah.
Meanwhile, Nazri said yesterday that the ICAC, which has gained international reputation for its no-holds-barred professional investigations, has decided to wash its hands off the whole matter and has even retracted its application for an investigation of the matter with the Swiss courts.
“The application done under MACMA [Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act] was also withdrawn for the same reason,” said Nazri, the Padang Rengas MP.