Prosecution drops charges, Musa acquitted of logging case

by RAHIMI YUNUS/ pic by BERNAMA

THE prosecution dropped all 46 corruption and money laundering charges linked to logging concessionaires against Tan Sri Musa Aman (picture), subsequently having him acquitted of the offences.

In a case management yesterday, deputy public prosecutor Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid told the Kuala Lumpur High Court that the prosecution had withdrawn the charges, in which the defence then asked for the court to grant a full acquittal to avoid Musa being charged again.

“The accused is hereby acquitted and discharged. The bail money will be refunded to the bailer and the dates set for trial earlier will be vacated,” Judge Datuk Muhammad Jamil Hussin said at the High Court yesterday.

The trial had been previously fixed to start on Sept 14 and allocated to be held up to November.

Defence counsel Amer Hamzah Arshad said investigations by the Independent Commission Against Corruption of Hong Kong and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission between 2008 and 2011 had found no involvement of Musa in any corrupt practice or money laundering activities.

Musa was initially charged with 35 counts of corruption in November 2018 for allegedly accepting US$63 million (RM263 million) inducement from 16 companies which were involved in timber concessions contracts.

In his position as Sabah chief minister and Sabah Foundation Board of Trustees chairman, he allegedly committed the crimes via banks in Hong Kong and Singapore between Dec 20, 2004, and Nov 6, 2008.

The charges were framed under Section 11(a) of the Anti-Corruption Act 1997, which carries a maximum imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the amount of bribe or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

In March last year, the prosecution levelled 16 charges of money laundering against Musa involving US$37.8 million and S$2.5 million in proceeds from illegal activities from several individuals through a bank account with UBS AG in Singapore.

The charges were framed under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, in which he faced a maximum 15 years of imprisonment and a fine of no less than five times the amount of illegal proceeds or RM5 million, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

Subsequently, in October last year, the prosecution withdrew five of the original 35 counts on corruption and amended some of the existing 30 charges.

In a statement, Musa said his application to strike out the charges had been made meticulously early this year and supported by statements and documented evidences which were clear and indisputable.

“Despite what had happened to me and my family, although it seemed to occur due to political differences, I view it as tests and tribulations from God for my whole family,” he said yesterday.

Responding to this development, it was reported that Sabah Umno chairman Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin said the people could expect “many things to happen” this month now that the senior leader was freed of all charges.

“Even though it is difficult to predict, I think we will see many surprises this month. Sabah Umno is ready for anything,” he said.