MACC directed to probe Azmin over graft allegations
UPDATED @ 05:30:16 PM 31-05-2012
KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 — The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) was today asked to investigate Azmin Ali over claims he owns RM30 million in assets, following a complaint lodged by the PKR leader’s estranged sister Ummi Hafilda Ali.
The MACC’s operations evaluation panel (PPO) chairman Tan Sri Hadenan Abdul Jalil told reporters it had directed MACC to continue investigating Azmin (picture) based on investigation papers opened in 2009.
MACC director of investigations Mustafar Ali, who was also present, said the commission might haul up Azmin as well as PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim if their testimonies are required to obtain further information to verify several recent claims that have been made.
Azmin has been accused by his estranged sister, a regular speaker at Umno ceramahs, to have amassed assets beyond his means as a civil servant between 1995 and 1997 when he was private secretary to Anwar, who was then deputy prime minister.
Hadenan said the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) was previously unable to charge Azmin due to lack of evidence. However, investigations found Azmin owned assets beyond his means as a civil servant.
"The case was reopened in 2009 when additional information was given to the MACC," Hadenan told a press conference today here.
"Based on this, we have advised the MACC to continue their probe," he said, adding it was "necessary for MACC to gather enough solid evidence".
"At the end of the day, any case handled by the MACC needs to have solid evidence. We cannot base the case on rumours or assumptions."
On Tuesday, Malaysia Today published an article “MACC ‘Deep Throat’ Comes out of the Closet” which alleged the ACA had gathered enough evidence to arrest and prosecute Azmin for corruption, but under orders, allegedly from Anwar, the case was buried.
Azmin responded immediately, describing the allegation against him as mere slander.
In a News Straits Times report today, former ACA director-general Datuk Shafee Yahaya was quoted as saying he had recommended to Anwar that disciplinary action be taken against Azmin.
He said the probe had revealed that Azmin was deep in debt.
Shafee maintained that the probe did not uncover a “strong element of corruption” to warrant prosecution.
He denied making a judgment call that there was no case against Azmin and ordering that the case be closed.
The daily also reported that Azmin was being investigated for, among others, assets allegedly amassed with his wife, Shamsidar Taharin, including houses and cars totalling almost RM1.5 million, shares valued at hundreds of thousands of ringgit, and almost RM10 million in cash and cheques that went in and out of both their accounts that had been certified by the banks concerned.
The assets were allegedly acquired when Azmin served as Anwar’s private secretary.
His pay then was RM2,442 a month.
Yesterday, Shafee challenged the whistleblower to come forward to assist MACC’s investigations.
Justifying his call to merely recommend disciplinary action against Azmin, he said there was no strong element of corruption in the case.
On why the investigation paper (IP) was not referred to the Attorney-General’s Chambers, Shafee argued that it was the duty of his subordinate officer to inform the chambers, adding that it was impossible for the agency’s top bosses to monitor all cases and their details.