By Ida Lim | Malay Mail

Amer Hamzah said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and ICAC had cleared his client of wrongdoing after investigating him between 2008 and 2011. – FIRDAUS LATIF

Tan Sri Musa Aman’s 46 corruption and money-laundering charges were brought against the former Sabah Chief Minister as a form of political persecution, his lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad claimed today.

Earlier this morning, the High Court acquitted Musa of all 46 charges after the prosecution said it was withdrawing all the charges against him.

Commenting on his client’s acquittal, Amer Hamzah said the lawyers for Musa had on February 12 filed an application in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur to strike out the charges against him, owing to reasons such as local and international corruption investigators having cleared Musa of wrongdoing in the past.

Amer Hamzah noted that this application was accompanied by Musa’s supporting affidavit, former attorney general Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail’s affidavit and important documents such as those from the Independent Commission Against Corruption of Hong Kong (ICAC).

Amer Hamzah went on to summarise the contents of Musa’s application to strike out the 46 charges, including how both the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and ICAC had cleared his client after investigating him between 2008 and 2011.

“After carrying out a comprehensive investigation, the MACC found that there was no element of corruption and the funds investigated are political donations. This matter was verified by former MACC investigation division director Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali and was notified to the ICAC through a September 2011 letter to the ICAC,” Amer Hamzah said in a five-page statement, referring to Mustafar’s position in MACC then.

“After carrying out comprehensive investigations, the ICAC had issued a letter dated December 22, 2011 to our client that stated that investigations on our client had completed and no further action would be taken against Tan Sri Musa Aman.

“The ICAC’s investigation findings clearly showed that our client is not involved in any corrupt activity. Until today, no further investigations have been carried out by ICAC against our client,” he added.

Amer Hamzah went on to say that the Attorney General’s Chambers had scrutinised the investigation findings by the MACC at that time, which he said showed that Musa was not involved in any corruption or money-laundering offences.

He said that the MACC investigation findings and the AGC’s decision at that time to not continue or take any action on Musa had gone through several individuals, including Abdul Gani who was the AG then, Datuk Seri Tun Abd Majid Tun Hamzah who was then head of the AGC’s prosecution division, then MACC Chief Commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed and then MACC investigation division director Mustafar.

Amer Hamzah said that the MACC’s Operations Review Panel had also agreed with the MACC investigation findings.

Amer Hamzah also cited then minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz’s comments in Parliament, confirming to Malay Mail that he was referring to Nazri’s October 2012 written parliamentary reply that referred to the authorities’ findings that no element of corruption was shown in Musa’s case and that stated the funds were donations to Sabah UMNO and not Musa’s personal use.

Political persecution?

Among other things, Amer Hamzah said the striking out application was also based on the reasons of alleged malicious prosecution and political persecution against Musa, when the prosecution charged him in court in November 2018 with corruption just two days before an expected court decision on a dispute over the Sabah Chief Minister post.

Amer Hamzah said Musa was appointed as Sabah Chief Minister following the results of the 14th general election in May 2018, but said the Sabah governor had two days later appointed another person to replace Musa as Sabah Chief Minister.

Musa had filed a lawsuit to seek for court recognition of him being the rightful Sabah Chief Minister and to challenge the governor’s appointment of his replacement Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal. (The High Court had in November 2018 dismissed Musa’s lawsuit, and the Court of Appeal had in November 2019 dismissed Musa’s appeal. The case is now at the Federal Court, where Musa has sought for leave to appeal.)

Amer Hamzah highlighted that the High Court in Kinabalu had fixed November 7, 2018 to deliver its decision in Musa’s lawsuit, further questioning the authorities’ decision to bring corruption charges against Musa on November 5, 2018 despite the MACC and ICAC having long ago confirmed Musa as not committing corruption.

“This move, directly or indirectly gave a political advantage to his political foe. Does this not indicate that the prosecution against Tan Sri Musa Aman was mala fide and also a political persecution?” Amer Hamzah asked, noting that the charges were based on the same facts in the investigations that the ICAC and MACC had conducted.

Questioning the actual motive for charging Musa in November 2018, Amer Hamzah said there was a probability of abuse of the legal process due to the alleged political persecution, adding that the government would have been exposed to legal action from Musa for malicious prosecution if the corruption trial were to have gone on.

Amer Hamzah noted that the prosecution had on March 5, 2019 confirmed Abdul Gani’s decision as the then attorney general to not take further action in Musa’s case, noting that the 2019 confirmation was via a written statement provided by the prosecution under the law on facts favourable to the defence.

Amer Hamzah argued that the attorney general’s decisions as public prosecutor cannot be taken lightly and simply changed without firm reasons due to its impact on those being investigated or prosecuted, adding that a professional attorney general has to be consistent and defend past decisions made after going through the necessary processes.

In Musa’s case which he said was prosecuted based on the same facts that MACC and ICAC had found to have no corrupt elements, Amer Hamzah said that the current attorney general Tan Sri Idrus Harun’s decision to not continue prosecution against Musa was just and correct under the law.

Amer Hamzah said his client believes that Idrus and the deputy public prosecutors conducting the case had objectively studied Musa’s striking out application and taken into account all legal aspects and the aspect of justice, and noted that the prosecution had acted professionally when informing the High Court today of the dropping of all charges against Musa.

Amer Hamzah said the High Court was initially scheduled to hear Musa’s application to strike out the 46 charges on April 23 and April 24, but the hearing was postponed due to the movement control order (MCO) and came up for mention in court today.

With the prosecution’s withdrawing of all charges against Musa this morning and the court’s subsequent acquittal, Amer Hamzah said his client also withdrew the application to strike out the charges.

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.

Prior to the dropping of the charges today, trial for Musa had yet to start.

On February 28, the High Court had rescheduled the starting of the trial from June 8 to the new date of September 14, in order to hear Musa’s striking out application first.