KOTA KINABALU: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) believes as much as RM1.5 billion has been siphoned from funds allocated for rural development projects in Sabah.

The projects, estimated to cost a total RM7.5 billion, were planned to be carried out between 2009 and 2015.

According to MACC deputy commissioner (operations) Azam Baki, the current investigations centred on more than 60 companies believed to have been involved in the massive fraud.

“Most of these projects are related to water, roads and electricity. The projects were funded by the federal government.

“Some of these projects were not properly done, some were not done correctly, and we are also looking at corruption elements in the projects,” he said during a press conference here today.

Azam said MACC had completed investigations into a few of the suspected companies.

Some of the suspected companies had closed down, which increased the difficulty in investigating them.

A lot of work needs to be done to carry out the research and MACC would deploy more officers to do the ground work, he said.

“MACC will call more witnesses in the coming days. I don’t want to comment about any personality.

“We will call anybody we think can assist in the investigation and arrest any suspect whom we think is involved,” he said.

Azam said MACC believed the funds meant for rural projects might have been used by contractors to bribe certain parties in these cases.

Asked whether the funds would go to the state agencies before being distributed, Azam said normally contractors for federal projects would be appointed by the federal agency concerned.

“So they will follow their own procedure when appointing contractors,” he said.

He said MACC received information from the public after it investigated the Sabah water department case last year.

The whistleblower, he said, had gone to MACC to report irregularities related to the rural projects in Sabah.

Meanwhile, Parti Warisan Sabah president Shafie Apdal said he was disappointed that there were people who jumped to conclusions and tried to implicate him in the case.

“I see people saying these are Shafie Apdal’s proxies. Come on, these are not my companies and not my money.

“When I was in the government, I had sterling performance every year,” he said.

Shafie added that MACC had not called him but promised to give his full cooperation if needed.

Yesterday, the party’s vice president and Shafie’s long-time ally Peter Anthony was detained after he went to the MACC office to give a statement.

MACC is expected to take him to court for a remand hearing this afternoon.-FMT NEWS-

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