By Hanis Zainal | The Star

The High Court fixed Oct 18 as case management date for former Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman, who is facing 35 charges of bribery and 16 charges of money laundering related to timber concessions in Sabah.

High Court deputy registrar Catherine Nicholas fixed the date after a case management in chambers on Wednesday (Sept 25), in the presence of both prosecution and defence.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Datin Nurshuhaida Zainal Azahar told the media that the case management on Oct 18 would be before High Court judge Justice Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

Musa was represented by counsel Joshua Tay and Hoe Sue Lu.

On Nov 5 last year, Musa was slapped with 35 counts of corruption involving US$63mil (around RM243mil) in Hong Kong and Singapore as an inducement for offering timber concessions in Sabah between Dec 20,2004 and Nov 6,2008.

The bribes were allegedly an inducement to give timber concessions contracts to 16 companies – Bountiful Returns Sdn Bhd, Syarikat Segar Tepat Sdn Bhd, JV Lestari Sdn Bhd, Tamabina Sdn Bhd, Sabapioneer Sdn Bhd, Danagaya Sdn Bhd, LR Enterprise Sdn Bhd, Lembah Mayang Sdn Bhd, Fast Progress Sdn Bhd, Maju Sinar Network Sdn Bhd, Eden Region Sdn Bhd, Gasing Selatan Sdn Bhd, Innokita Sdn Bhd, Tetap Simfoni Sdn Bhd, Asiatic Lumber Industries Sdn Bhd, and Eramewa Sdn Bhd.

The charges were framed under Section 11(a) of the Anti-Corruption Act 1997, which carries a maximum imprisonment of 20 years and a fine not less than five times the amount of bribe or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

In March, Musa was slapped with an additional 16 charges of money laundering involving US$37.8mil and US$2.5mil, allegedly committed more than 10 years ago.

According to the first charge, Musa ordered one Richard Christopher Barnes, 67, to open a bank account at UBS AG Bank in Singapore under the name Richard Christopher Barnes to receive the proceeds from illegal activities.

Musa also faces an alternative charge to this first charge, where he is said to have hidden his belongings which were proceeds from illegal activities at the same place and time.

For the second to the 15th charges, Musa is said to have received US$17,195,700 from one Chia Tien Foh; US$4,883,375 from Young Generation Corp; US$4,044,956.82 from one Lo Man Heng; US$1,413,681.74 from one Mazlan Zakaria; US$7.3mil and S$2.5mil from Axon Group Ltd; US$1,951,775.50 from Well Capital Finance Limited; US$650,000 from Innovative Information Ltd; and US$406,003.29 from Portland Trading Pte Ltd, through Barnes’ bank account.

For the 16th charge, Musa was accused of ordering Barnes to transfer all assets and future inflows – said to be proceeds from illegal activities – from Barnes’ bank account into his own account at UBS AG Bank in Zurich, Switzerland.

The offences were said to have been committed at UBS AG Bank in Singapore and UBS AG Bank in Hong Kong between June 21,2006, and May 14,2008.

The charges were framed under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison, as well as a fine of no less than five times the amount of illegal proceeds or RM5mil – whichever is higher – upon conviction.