KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 — Hong Kong’s anti-graft authority had written privately to Datuk Musa Aman last December to inform the Sabah chief minister that he was no longer under probe for corruption for a RM40 million donation to the state Umno chapter, according to the letter sighted by The Malaysian Insider.
In the December 22, 2011 letter, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) explained to the long-serving state chief minister that it had started the probe after receiving a complaint against him, saying that this was required by Hong Kong’s laws on corruption.
But the agency said that upon completing investigations and filing a report with its Operations Review Committee (ORC), both the committee and the ICAC Commissioner had agreed not to take further investigative action “on the basis of the facts now known”.
The letter, which bore the ICAC’s letterhead, was signed off by principal investigator Tso Wai-Yan and was addressed solely to Musa at his office in Kota Kinabalu. No other individual was carbon copied on the document.
Sabah BN secretary Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan, who showed The Malaysian Insider a picture of the letter on his iPad, said the one-page correspondence could vindicate Musa and the ruling Umno against the firestorm of allegations from opposition leaders here of a major scandal cover-up ahead of the coming polls.
The state Umno leader is also expected to face a barrage of questions at the Umno general assembly starting tomorrow, despite issuing a denial over the weekend.
Abdul Rahman pointed out that the letter was strictly private and confidential as it was only addressed to Musa, indicating that the agency had acted independently without any interference from outside parties.
“The ICAC are professionals. No one else was copied on that letter. They respect the right of an accused to confidentiality,” Abdul Rahman told The Malaysian Insider.
The Kota Belud MP had initially promised to reveal the letter at a press conference last Thursday but said that on advice from lawyers, the physical copy of the document would be kept under wraps for now and used as Sabah Umno’s “trump card” to prove Musa’s innocence.
He said the chief minister and Sabah Umno are currently mulling legal action against PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli, who returned last week from a two-day mission in Hong Kong to dig up information on Musa’s case.
“I promised to reveal this letter but after discussing the matter with lawyers for the chief minister and Sabah Umno, they advised me not to reveal it because it will be used should there be legal action against Rafizi.
“It is definitely an option on the table. Rafizi has violated some laws,” Abdul Rahman said.
As examples, the Sabah lawmaker said that apart from defamation, Rafizi had likely violated section 29(4) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 which protects the identity of an accused.
The section stipulates that a report lodged to the commission “shall be kept secret and shall not be disclosed by any person to any person other than officers of the Commission and the Public Prosecutor until an accused person has been charged in court for an offence under this Act or any other written law in consequence of such report, unless the disclosure is made with the consent of the Public Prosecutor or an officer of the Commission of the rank of Commissioner and above.”
Rafizi has been lobbying the ICAC to reopen its RM40 million probe against Musa, alleging a possible conspiracy by the MACC and the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government here to shelve the matter for fear of an electoral backlash.
Musa was recently cleared of a RM40 million money-laundering allegation linking him to Sabah timber trader Michael Chia.
But according to Rafizi, who is currently facing several court cases for his whistleblowing work, fresh evidence recently found in Musa’s case could warrant a reason for the renowned ICAC to start a new investigation.
Rafizi and three other PKR lawmakers lodged a report with the ICAC last Thursday listing three reasons to encourage the agency to reopen the probe against Musa and Chia — separate claims from two Sabah MPs that the RM40 million from Chia was an inducement for corrupt gains and not a political donation to Umno as previously claimed; and the receipt of a luxury vehicle from Chia by Umno minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz, possibly for corrupt reasons.
The team plans to return to Hong Kong in two weeks’ time to furnish more evidence to the agency.
Rafizi has also claimed of rumours that the ICAC’s decision to close the case was due to a lack of co-operation from the MACC.
But Abdul Rahman said the letter from the ICAC clearly refuted this as it states that it had conducted its own separate and independent investigation before deciding to close its file on the case.
“I believe the ICAC investigated this thoroughly. Remember, the money in question had allegedly come from Hong Kong and the ICAC is a Hong Kong agency.
“They have full power and access there,” he said.
He accused Rafizi of insulting the ICAC and MACC’s reputations as credible and independent law enforcement agencies, saying that the latter was likely using the controversy to gain political mileage ahead of the coming polls.
“The elections are coming and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) needs Sabah badly.
“They know that Musa has done very well in Sabah and they need to kill of this guy politically by putting enough doubt on his reputation,” he said.
But when asked if Sabah Umno was ready to co-operate with the ICAC should it come knocking again for a second probe, Abdul Rahman said Musa and the party would be willing to do so.
He pointed out that during the first probe, the ICAC’s investigators had quizzed Musa in Sabah and had not conducted a “remote-controlled” probe from Hong Kong.
“They travelled to Sabah and met with him (Musa),” he said.
Musa’s alleged link with Chia first exploded in the media following an April article by whistleblower site Sarawak Report, which had claimed that latter was caught trying to leave the Hong Kong International Airport with the RM40 million in Singapore currency.
At the time, Chia had allegedly told the authorities that the money was meant for Musa, kicking off a probe on the series of fund transfers from Malaysia to Hong Kong that was then believed to be the possible laundering of monies generated from illegal logging activities in Sabah.
The issue hit the headlines again last month when Nazri told Parliament that Musa had been cleared of corruption in the matter after Malaysian and Hong Kong anti-graft authorities found that the money was a “political donation” to Sabah Umno and was not meant for Musa’s personal use.
But in the ensuing debates on the issue, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers chided Nazri for declaring Musa innocent without providing proof that the ICAC had cleared the chief minister of its own accord.
According to Nazri, the ICAC had closed the case after the MACC discovered in its probe that the money in Chia’s possession was meant for Sabah Umno and not Musa.
After Nazri’s denial, Rafizi held a press conference in Parliament revealing what he said was photographic proof that Nazri had allegedly received kickbacks from Chia to clear his name, in the form of a RM459,000 Hummer given to his son.