Speaking to The Malaysian Insider from Hong Kong this morning, Rafizi Ramli, who is leading the party’s four-member fact-finding mission there, said it was not immediately clear what the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) plans do with the new evidence but expressed confidence that the case would likely be reopened.
In PKR’s report to Hong Kong’s graftbusters, three reasons were listed to encourage the world-renowned ICAC to reopen the RM40 million graft probe against Musa and Chia — separate claims from two Sabah MPs that the money was not a political donation to Umno as claimed; and the receipt of a luxury vehicle from Chia by Umno minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz, possibly for corrupt reasons.
“They did give us a reference number and I think that by practice here, all cases are opened once a report is lodged.
“Furthermore, we were accompanied today by James To, leader of the Democrats in the legislative council, and we have also received support from one or two other council members who will follow-up in Parliament and with the ICAC later,” Rafizi (picture) said in a phone call to this news portal.
He added that the presence of PKR’s four-man team in Hong Kong has also generated quite a media buzz, another promising indicator that the matter was unlikely to whittle down so soon.
“When we lodged the report this morning, there were already six or seven press organisations waiting there. We will be hosting a press conference later this afternoon to speak on the issue. And then once the press and legislative council members pick up this issue, it won’t die down so quickly.
“So the case will definitely be opened,” he said.
Rafizi added that representatives from the ICAC had particularly expressed interest in PKR’s possession of more evidence to prove the money-laundering link between Malaysia and Hong Kong, in the form of documents of transactions made in Hong Kong, and the persons involved from there.
He said the agency had urged his team to return with the evidence at a later date.
“We do have some of those details. And I think the MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) had it all along.
“So I have given my undertaking to return with the evidence in about three or four weeks’ time to give a full set of details, including transactions made here (in Hong Kong) and so on,” Rafizi said.
The PKR strategy director added that he will request for Sabah lawmakers Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin and Datuk Seri Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing, who recently left Barisan Nasional (BN) for the opposition, to offer their testimonies to the Hong Kong authorities.
Both men had previously claimed that the RM40 million “political donation” had never reached Umno as claimed but had been kept in the personal bank account of an individual closely connected to the accused in the case.
Rafizi said based on PKR’s information today, the ICAC officials will prepare a report for their superiors before proceeding with the case.
He said the officials were very careful not to mention names or offer any information of their knowledge in the case, and had even advised PKR against revealing the names of the accused and those involved in the matter to the Hong Kong media.
“I can understand the caution. They are professionals. And we did ask if they will reopen the case but the practice is that, there will be no official communication from them on whether the case will be opened.
“But we will be able to seek a progress report in the next three or four weeks,” he said.
In PKR’s report to the ICAC today, it was pointed out that Hong Kong’s Chief Prosecutor Kevin Zervos had told the Malaysian media of his willingness to revisit Musa’s case should there be additional evidence to prove that the funds in question were meant for his personal use and had not been a political donation to Umno.
“We believe the new evidence and leads nullify the veracity of information previously communicated by the Malaysian authorities to ICAC, that the RM40 million held in an account of a Malaysian on behalf of a top official was meant for political donation.
“We maintain that the funds worth RM40 million were part of a bigger ring that launders money from illegal logging activities through Hong Kong on behalf of the corrupt officials of the Malaysian government,” PKR said in its two-page report emailed to The Malaysian Insider here.
At 2pm today, Rafizi and his team will be meeting with local Hong Kong NGOs and the media for a special briefing on the case.
Chia’s alleged link with Musa first exploded in the media following an April article by whistleblower site Sarawak Report, which had claimed that former was caught trying to leave the Hong Kong International Airport with the RM40 million in Singapore currency.
At the time, Chia had allegedly told the authorities that the money was meant for Musa, kicking off a probe on the series of funds transfers from Malaysia to Hong Kong that was then believed to be the possible laundering of monies generated from illegal logging activities in Sabah.
The issue hit headlines again last month when Nazri told Parliament that Musa had been cleared of corruption in the matter after Malaysian and Hong Kong anti-graft authorities found that the money was a “political donation” to Sabah Umno and was not meant for Musa’s personal use.
But in the ensuing debates on the issue, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers chided Nazri for declaring Musa innocent without providing proof that the ICAC had cleared the chief minister of its own accord.
According to Nazri, the ICAC had closed the case after the MACC discovered in its probe that the money in Chia’s possession was meant for Sabah Umno and not Musa.
After Nazri’s denial, Rafizi held a press conference in Parliament revealing what he said was photographic proof that Nazri had allegedly received kickbacks from Chia to clear his name, in the form of a RM459,000 Hummer given to his son.
PKR embarked on its fact-finding mission to Hong Kong yesterday to uncover if the ICAC’s decision to close to case was due to the lack of c-ooperation from the MACC. Apart from Rafizi, PKR MPs William Leong and Lee Hoy Sian, and Perak assemblyman Chang Lih Kang, were also included in the mission.
In an interview with news portal Free Malaysia Today on Tuesday, Zervos had revealed that it was information from Malaysia that had said the RM40 million was a donation, leading to the case’s closure.
He admitted that at the time, there was no further information or evidence on the nature of the monies forthcoming at the time and the case could not be taken further due to “insufficient evidence”.
Zervos’ remarks could prove detrimental to Malaysian authorities, who have repeatedly claimed that sufficient evidence had proven that the money was a donation and not for Musa’s personal use.