'Returning bribe money will not absolve a graft suspect'

KUALA LUMPUR:The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) will not clear a person involved in corrupt practice even if the bribe is returned to its source.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Paul Low said there is no provision under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission 2009 Act that allowed for such clearance of those who have accepted bribes.

"With reference to the MACC Act, there does not exist a provision which states that if bribe money is returned to the one giving it, the person who received it could be cleared from corruption charges," he said.

Low, who is the minister in charge of integrity, said this in a written reply to Idris Ahmad (PAS - Bukit Gantang).

Idris had asked whether there is a law being used by the MACC to clear a person of corruption if he returns the bribe amount.

Low said the MACC is granted power under the act to seize both moveable and immovable assets of those who are under investigation for corruption.

"The seizure of bribe money and assets is made under Sections 33, 37 and 38 of the MACC Act.

"After the investigation is concluded, the MACC will submit the investigation paper to the deputy public prosecutor for a decision," he said.

"If it can be proven that the seized money and assets were received from corrupt practices, asset forfeiture action will be taken," he added.

Low said the seized assets would be returned to the person if graft could not be established.

He also said the MACC has seized assets worth more than RM170 million from government and government-linked corporation (GLC) officers.

These assets were seized from officers involved in corruption and money laundering activities between 2014 and September this year.

He said in 2014 alone, a total of RM113.45 million of assets linked to corruption were seized and frozen by the MACC.

"Last year, the amount was RM30.78 million while until September this year, the sum seized and frozen amounts to RM27.55 million," he said in a written reply.

He was responding to a question by Tan Kok Wai (DAP-Cheras) who asked the government to state the number of government and GLC officers detained by the MACC for corruption offences.

Low said a total of 1,307 officers were detained by the MACC for corruption and money laundering during the same period of time.

He said 227 officers were detained in 2014, while another 405 officers were detained the following year.

"For the period between January and September 2016, a total of 388 civil servants and 17 GLC staff were detained," he added.