Bersatu leader charged with accepting bribes of RM7 million related to Jana Wibawa programme

Bersatu leader charged with accepting bribes of RM7 million related to Jana Wibawa programme

MALAYSIA — Datuk Wan Saiful Wan Jan, the information chief of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), has been charged with accepting nearly RM7 million (US$1.5 million) in bribes related to the Jana Wibawa programme, which was established during the Covid-19 pandemic to assist bumiputra contractors.

The Member of Parliament for Tasek Gelugor was charged under Section 16(a)(A) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 for bribery.

47-year-old Wan Saiful was arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) last night after giving his statement to MACC on the Jana Wibawa scheme.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges read out to him before Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court Judge Azura Alwi today (21 Feb).

Wan Saiful is also charged of soliciting bribes worth RM232 million (US$52.35 million) in total. Specifically, he is alleged to have asked for the incentive from an individual named Lian Tan Chuan to help Nepturis Sdn. Bhd. to obtain the Central Spine Road project from the government.

He is accused of accepting a bribe in the form of cash amounting to RM6.9 million through his own company’s bank account, from a Maybank account of Nepturis Sdn Bhd. as payment for helping the latter obtain Letters of Acceptance (LoA) for the project.

The court document revealed that he was charged with committing both acts at two different locations on separate occasions: the Royal Lake Club in Taman Tasik Perdana in April 2022, and the CIMB Bank Berhad Bukit Tunku Branch in Taman Tunku, Bukit Tunku between 8 July and 30 September last year.

Judge Azura ordered Wan Saiful to post bail of RM400,000 and impounded his passport. Additionally, he was ordered to report to MACC once every two months while awaiting the outcome of the trial.

The case is set to be re-mentioned on 22 March.

During the proceedings, Wan Saiful was represented by lawyers Hisyam Teh Poh Teik and Rozal Azimin Ahmad, while the deputy public prosecutor Wan Shahruddin Wan Ladin handled the prosecution.

Wan Saiful and businessman Adam Radlan Adam Muhammad were detained by the MACC on the previous night, but Adam Radlan will face charges in a separate court.

If found guilty, Wan Saiful could be sentenced to up to 20 years in jail and fined a minimum of RM10,000.

Several lists of LoA allegedly issued through projects under the scheme

Datuk Seri Azalina Othman, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Legal and Institutional Reform), claimed that several lists of Letters of Acceptance (LoA) issued through projects under the Jana Wibawa scheme involve family members of key leaders of certain political parties.

In a written reply to a parliamentary question, she said the MACC had conducted a probe into issues related to direct negotiation tenders, which included development and infrastructure projects under Jana Wibawa. However, the MACC had not been able to identify the true value of the projects thus far.

“A total of 56 projects received LoAs, and the total worth of all the projects is RM6.3 billion,” she said.

Azalina was answering a question from Lim Guan Eng (PH-Bagan) about the total number and value of projects associated with abuse of power, specifically direct negotiation tenders involving family members of key leaders, as well as the actions taken against those who received “kickbacks.”

MACC investigating Jana Wibawa programme under PN government led by Muhyiddin

The MACC has launched an investigation into the Jana Wibawa programme, which the agency is currently investigating for claims that selected contractors allegedly funneled political funds into the Bersatu party account.

Almost all the donors who contributed to the party’s accounts were contractors who were awarded government contracts during Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s premiership as the 8th prime minister from March 2020 to August 2021.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, a former prime minister, has provided a statement to the MACC in connection with the same inquiry.

The Perikatan Nasional (PN) chairman has since denied the allegations, calling it an attempt to silence the opposition by the new unity government.

Other Bersatu leaders, including the party’s treasurer, have also been summoned by the MACC to have their statements recorded. Two bank accounts belonging to Bersatu, with a total balance of RM40 million, have been frozen by the MACC.

On 2 February, MACC Chief Commissioner Azam Baki confirmed that the commission froze several Bersatu bank accounts as part of its investigations into the alleged use of RM600 billion in funds by the previous PN-led government during the COVID-19 pandemic from 2020 to 2022. Calls for an official investigation into the stimulus spending during the pandemic grew after there were perceptions that PN ran a well-funded election campaign leading up to the 15th General Elections on 19 November last year.

In a separate investigation by the anti-graft agency into the Pandora Papers, the MACC is said to be summoning more individuals. A former finance minister was called up by the MACC on 14 February, and investigators are looking into the case involving this individual.

The Pandora Papers are a trove of 11.9 million leaked financial documents naming heads of state, billionaires, and celebrities who use offshore companies to acquire mansions, private jets, and stakes in companies with little or no transparency.

The MACC is also reportedly attempting to trace overseas assets and investments linked to the former minister and his family. An 84-year-old former minister was summoned to explain claims of a money trail to 12 offshore companies alleged to be owned by him and his family.

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