By Ida Lim | Malay Mail

Amer Hamzah asserted that all the funds mentioned in these 46 charges were shown in previous investigations to be donations. – YUSOF MAT ISA

The funds former Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman was accused of receiving corruptly were not linked to any projects in Sabah, including logging concessions, but were instead political donations for UMNO and Barisan Nasional, his lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad insisted today.

Commenting immediately after the High Court this morning acquitted Musa of 30 corruption charges and 16 money-laundering charges involving millions of US dollars, Amer Hamzah asserted that all the funds mentioned in these 46 charges were shown in previous investigations to be donations.

“About the total funds that were the subject of the prosecution, these funds were actually already explained during past investigations, where it was political donations given by party supporters, donors, the public and Barisan Nasional/UMNO headquarters for use in preparations for by-elections and general elections, activities and expenditure of Barisan Nasional/UMNO Sabah.

“All relevant and related documents had been supplied to the MACC,” Amer Hamzah said in a lengthy five-page statement today.

Musa is the immediate former Sabah UMNO chief.

“At all material times, these political donations do not involve any projects for the state of Sabah, logging concessions and are not on a quid pro quo basis,” Amer Hamzah added, referring to the phrase which means giving something in exchange for receiving something else.

Amer Hamzah pointed out that giving or receiving political donations was not a crime in Malaysia, which he said was confirmed by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in a 2017 news report.

Amer Hamzah was referring to an October 7, 2017 report by local daily New Straits Times (NST), in which then MACC deputy chief commissioner Datuk Seri Azam Baki was reported saying that the MACC Act 2009 does not cover money politics offences and that there are no existing laws on political funding.

In the same statement, Amer Hamzah said the MACC and Independent Commission Against Corruption of Hong Kong (ICAC) had in 2011 cleared Musa of wrongdoing following corruption investigations.

Amer Hamzah went on to argue that the corruption charges brought against Musa in November 2018 were based on the same facts that the MACC and ICAC had cleared the former Sabah Chief Minister of, before questioning if the charges were a political persecution and malicious prosecution against Musa.

Of the 46 charges that Musa was facing and acquitted of this morning, the 30 counts of corruption related to his alleged receiving of US$50.1 million (RM213.5 million) from eight logging concessionaires as inducement to give timber concessions to 16 companies, while the 16 money-laundering charges related to his alleged receiving of proceeds from illegal activities amounting to US$37,845,491.60 and S$2.5 million.

Musa’s trial had yet to even begin before all the charges were dismissed today.

On February 28, the High Court had rescheduled the starting of the trial from June 8 to the new date of September 14, pending the hearing of Musa’s application filed on February 12 to strike out the charges against him.

The hearing of Musa’s striking out application had initially been scheduled for late April, but was postponed due to the movement control order and it came up for mention in court today.

With his acquittal of the 46 charges, Musa’s lawyers today also withdrew his application to strike out the charges.