Sabah ‘watergate’: Teo Chee Kong faces 146 charges

 

By ERSIE CHELL ANJUMIN

KOTA KINABALU: A former deputy director with the Sabah Water Department, who was arrested last year, has claimed trial to 146 counts of misappropriation involving RM32 million.

Teo Chee Kong, 52, pleaded not guilty to the charges proffered under Section 4 (1) (a) and 4 (1)(b) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act.

The charges were not read aloud in the courtroom due to the volume, and were instead summarised for Teo by the court interpreter as suggested by Teo’s counsels.

Sarawak-based Sessions Court judge Nixon Kennedy Kumbong later fixed bail at RM1.5 million with two sureties, and ordered Teo to report to the MACC every Saturday.

The latest prosecution is part of the largest Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)’s investigation and seizures of cash and possessions in the state water scandal.

78 charges against Teo are framed under Section 4 (1) (a) of the Anti-Money Laundering & Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001 which carries a fine not exceeding RM5 million or imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both, upon conviction.

The charges state that Teo was engaging in money laundering by owning lands gained from unlawful activities between 2005 and 2016 at several land and district offices including the state Lands and Surveys Department office here.

Another 68 charges are framed under Section 4 (1) (b) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.

The charges state that Teo owns cash and foreign currency gained from illegal activities between Oct 2016 and November 2016 at various bank branches in the city and places among others, the Kota Kinabalu Water Engineer office and Jabatan Organisasi dan Kaedah, Menara PNB in Kuala Lumpur.

Teo faces imprisonment for a term not exceeding 15 years and shall also be liable to a fine of not less than five times the sum or value of the proceeds of an unlawful activity or instrumentalities of an offence at the time the offence was committed or RM5 million, whichever is the higher, if found guilty.

The court fixed Jan 16, next year for pre-trial case management and allowed Teo to be released on RM1.5million with RM500,000 to be deposited under two local sureties.

Counsel Roland Cheng and Co-counsel Hamid Ismail represented Teo while MACC Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Tengku Amir Zaki Tengku Abdul Rahman assisted by DPP Mohd Farez Rahman prosecuted the case.

Earlier, DPP Tengku Amir Zaki argued that the offence was non-bailable, but submitted in the event the court wishes to grant bail, he applied for RM10million bail and for Teo’s passport to be impounded.

Teo’s counsels applied for RM1 million bail arguing that the bail proposed by the prosecution was excessive. Hamid among others submitted that Teo is a local and had given full cooperation since he was remanded on Oct 4, 2016.

Roland added that most of Teo’s assets had been frozen by MACC, thus he requested for a lower bail. Teo who was re-arrested by the MACC here at about noon Tuesday, is the fourth person to be charged after three others last year.

He was among four key people investigated in connection with what has been deemed the biggest graft probe that shocked the nation late last year.

In Dec 29 last year, former Sabah Water Department director Awang Mohd Tahir Mohd Talib, 54, his wife Fauziah Piut, 51, and a state Finance Ministry advisor, Lim Lam Beng, 63, ( who was also a retired deputy director of the department) were slapped with separate charges at Sessions Court for money laundering involving millions ringgit. Their cases are scheduled to be heard from Feb 21 next year.

 
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New Sabah Times