KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 21): Police recorded a statement from Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng yesterday on the missing RM19.25 billion funds in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Refund Trust Account.
"The police have recorded my statement under Section 409 of the Penal Code," Lim said in a statement today.
Section 409 states that: "Whoever, being in any manner entrusted with property, or with any dominion over property, in his capacity of a public servant or an agent, commits criminal breach of trust in respect of that property, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than two years and not more than twenty years and with whipping, and shall also be liable to fine."
Lim said the missing funds affected 121,429 companies and individuals who have not received their refunds in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
"Under the GST Act 2014, the refunds of input tax should be made within two weeks but a huge number of companies and individuals have not received the refunds as far back as 2015," he said.
According to him, the companies and individuals affected by this scandal are now wondering why the money in the GST Refund Trust Account was not returned to them within two weeks as required by law.
"The government faces a shortfall of RM19.25 billion because there is only RM148.6 million in the GST Refund Trust Account, when there should be RM19.4 billion.
"Where is the RM19.25 billion that went missing since 2015? The federal government is working hard to return RM19.4 billion beginning next year because the money does not belong to the government but to the people," he added.
Lim said the former prime minister cum finance minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak must answer three questions over the matter.
The first, he said, is whether Najib authorised that GST refunds not be made within two weeks as required by the law.
The second question is whether Najib approved former treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar's decision not to transfer the full amount of RM82.9 billion refunds as requested by the customs department.
According to Lim, only RM63.5 billion was transferred to the trust account since 2015, resulting in a shortfall of RM19.25 billion.
The third question, said Lim, is whether Najib approve that the GST refunds not paid back since 2015 were to be recognised as government revenue instead and used as the government pleased.
"The answers to these important questions will enlighten the legal role played by Datuk Seri Najib as the finance minister because only a finance minister has the authority to approve or to deny the transfer of RM19.4 billion to the GST Refund Trust Account," added Lim.