KUALA LUMPUR, June 9 – The High Court here today freed former Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman of all his 46 corruption and money laundering charges in connection with timber concession contracts in Sabah.
Earlier, deputy public prosecutor Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid told the court that the prosecution had withdrawn all the charges made against Musa in the two cases (corruption and money laundering).
Musa’s lawyer Francis Ng Aik Guan said both the cases need an ending and the court ought to make an apt decision, that is to acquit and discharge his client of all charges for fear that he will be re-charged.
Judge Datuk Muhammad Jamil Hussin then acquitted and discharged Musa of all 46 charges.
“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,” the judge said.
The trial was initially scheduled for September, October and November this year, starting Sept 14.
The judge also allowed Ng’s application to withdraw the applications on legal issues pertaining to his client’s money laundering case.
Ng said the two applications were withdrawn as his client has been freed by the court.
“We also extend our thanks to the prosecution for the decision,” Ng said.
Musa, 69 was charged with 30 counts of corruption and 16 counts of money laundering relating to timber concessions in Sabah, but was allowed bail of RM2 million with two sureties for the two cases.
On the 30 counts of corruption, Musa in his capacity as Sabah chief minister and Sabah Foundation Board of Trustees chairman allegedly received US$50.1 million from eight logging concessionaires as an inducement to approve logging concessions to 16 companies.
He is alleged to have committed the offences at eight banks and financial institutions in Hong Kong, China 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 not less than five times the amount of bribe or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.
In reference to the 16 counts of money-laundering, Musa allegedly instructed Richard Christopher Barnes, 67, to open an account at UBS AG Bank, Singapore, under the name of Richard Christopher Barnes, through which he intended to receive proceeds from illegal activities.
The former chief minister allegedly received US$37,845,491.60 and another sum of S$2.5 million in proceeds from illegal activities from several individuals through the account under Barnes’ name.
The charges were framed under Section 4(1)(a) of AMLA, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison, as well as a fine of no less than five times the amount of illegal proceeds or RM5 million — whichever is higher — upon conviction.
Musa was also accused of having concealed the proceeds of illegal activities.