Sabah Water Department investigation in final stages: MACC

KUALA LUMPUR: Ops Water, the biggest graft bust in the country by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) that saw almost RM115 million seized from a top official of the Sabah Water Department (SWD) and his abettors is in its final stages of a painstaking investigation that commenced about two months ago.

For over a month, the tedious probe involved the scrutiny by a large MACC team made up of 137 personnel into 12 tonnes of files and documents including 8,000 payment vouchers and invoices related to the case and issued by Sabah state government departments between 2008 and this year being scrutinised.

The documents were recovered from 30 districts in Sabah including Kota Kinabalu, Tawau, Sandakan and Lahad Datu.

MACC deputy chief commissioner Datuk Azam Baki said today that the statements of over 200 witnesses were also recorded since the arrest of 28 people namely an SWD director, two deputy directors, 23 engineers and technicians and two civilians linked to the case on Oct 4 and 20.

He said the probe on the SWD officials and the others involved was in the final phase of investigations and the findings of the case is expected to be submitted to the Attorney-General Chambers soon.

Azam said the seizure and freezing of almost RM115 million were in cash, trust funds, movable and immovable assets traced in the country and overseas.

From Oct 4, two senior SWD officials aged 51 and 54; a businessman who is a Datuk and his accountant aged 50 and 55; a former senior Sabah state official in his 60's, and 23 district engineers and technicians were held and spent between four and two weeks in remand for investigation on the case.

It was the biggest haul of a whopping RM52.2 million in cold hard cash ever made in the history of graft-busting in Malaysia since the MACC was formed 49 years ago.

Apart from cash, the MACC also seized jewellery, land titles of 127 plots of land , luxury cars and costly merchandise from the suspects and their families.

The detained SWD officials had allegedly raked in tens of million ringgit in kickbacks by awarding government tenders for infrastructure work worth RM3.3 billion to their families and proxies.

The detained SWD officials had monopolised the tenders and gave them to those they favoured, depriving tens of other contractors of a living by keeping them out of the bidding of the work contracts.

The SWD officials were also found to own 38 companies between them that were registered under the names of their family members or proxies.

Both men were suspended from their positions pending investigations soon after and their positions have since been filled by other individuals.

Engineer Ir Wilis @ Mojiron Ansoi, 58 who was a deputy director of the Sabah Public Works Department assumed duties as the new director of the SWD.