The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday denied that there was any attempt to illegally smuggle the RM40 million “donation for Sabah Umno” into the country.
Responding to a question at a press conference at the UMNO headquarters yesterday, Najib curtly said “No” when asked whether there was any basis to the opposition claim that the funds were smuggled or laundered through Hong Kong, adding: “It has already been explained in Parliament”.
Nothing has been explained in Parliament as to whether the RM40 million cash in Singapore currency which Sabah timber trader Michael Chia had in his luggage before boarding a flight to Kuala Lumpur at the Hong Kong International airport on August 14, 2008 and was arrested for currency trafficking and laundering was “smuggled or laundered money”.
All that Parliament had been told is the Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman had been cleared of “corruption” as the RM40 million concerned were “contribution” to Sabah UMNO and not for Musa’s personal use, and that “no element of corruption was proven” – although this flies in the face of media reports at the time that Chia had told the Hong Kong authorities that the money belonged to Musa.
There are two separate questions here: firstly, whether the RM40 million cash was a transaction in an offence of corruption, whether involving Musa or UMNO Sabah; and secondly, whether the RM40 million cash was dirty money derived from corruption and/or illegal activities which had to be smuggled or laundered into the country.
Nazri has reportedly retracted what he told Parliament on Thursday and clarified that it was the MACC and not Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) which had cleared Musa of corruption on the ground that the RM40 million cash was a contribution to Sabah UMNO and not for Musa’s personal use.
But when Najib denied that the RM40 million cash was “smuggled or laundered” money, claiming that it had already been explained in Parliament, it invites the question how Najib or Nazri know that the RM40 million cash in Singapore currency for which Michael Chia was arrested at the HK International Airport on August 14, 2008 for currency trafficking or laundering was NOT “smuggled or laundered” money?
Did MACC also clear Michael Chia’s RM40 million cash in Singapore currency as clean money and not dirty corruption or laundered money, and if so, MACC should explain how it arrive at this finding or it risk being dubbed as Malaysian Abetting Corruption Commission instead of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.