Sabah water scandal: Former state director, his wife, ministry advisor plead not guilty (Updated)

PETALING JAYA: A former Sabah Water Department director, his wife and a state Finance Ministry technical and engineering advisor were charged with 37 counts of misappropriation of funds and unlawful possession of luxury items amounting to RM61.48 million in cash and bank savings.

Amidst a packed courtroom at the Kota Kinabalu court complex, today, 54-year-old former director Awang Mohd Tahir Mohd Talib pleaded not guilty at the Sessions Court to 12 counts of misappropriating infrastructure funds amounting to RM56.9 million and unlawfully possessing various branded wrist watches and vehicles.

He also pleaded not guilty along with his wife, Fauziah Piut, 51, to two counts of unlawfully possessing jewellery.

Separately Fauziah was charged with 19 more counts of unlawfully possessing 575 pieces jewellery and 346 other valuable items as well as a total of RM2.2 million in various bank accounts.

Meanwhile, technical and engineering advisor, Lim Lam Peng, 62, currently suspended from his post, claimed trial to three counts of possessing a total of RM2.38 million in cash and unlawfully possessing a vehicle.

Following the plea, Sessions judge Ummu Khaltom Abdul Samad set RM10 million bail for Awang Mohd Tahir Mohd Talib, RM2 million bail for Fauziah and a RM1 million bail for Lim.

She set the bail for all three with two local sureties and ordered all three to surrender their travel documents.

Ummu then fixed Feb 28 for case management.

However, both Awang and Fauziah were sent to the Kepayan prison after failing to post the combined bail of RM12 million.

On Oct 5, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) made its biggest ever haul in history after seizing a whopping RM52.2 million in cash with the arrest of the two senior officers.

The raids on the duo also saw the MACC seize 127 land titles, nine luxury cars along with jewellery and luxury items.

Further investigations saw the MACC detain and question 26 more people including Fauziah in relation to the money believed to be kickbacks from the federal-funded state water projects worth billions of ringgit.

Following the incident, the Sabah government had since appointed Wilis @ Mojiron Ansoi to be the Sabah Water Department director since Oct 21.

In KOTA KINABALU, Bernama reported that more people are expected to be charged in connection with the misappropriation of the Sabah Water Department's infrastructure funds.

MACC Deputy Chief Commissioner Datuk Azam Baki said investigation on the case was in the final stage and discussions were in progress with the deputy public prosecutor to charge others suspected to be involved in the case.

"This case is connected with the discovery of a huge sum of money, with three people having been charged in the court today. I call on all quarters to be patient and not to make any speculation," he told reporters after the court case.

Azam said the Sabah government gave its full cooperation in investigation of the case.