MACC freezes state assemblyman’s funds in illegal logging sweep in Sarawak

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(May 13): The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has frozen 30 more accounts today, including one under  the name of a state assemblyman, as the crackdown on Sarawak's illegal logging activities continued for the second day today.

This sees the total number of accounts frozen since the start of the operation, known as Ops Gergaji, increase to 400, with the total amount in the frozen accounts valued at about RM600 million.

MACC Investigation Division chief Datuk Mohamad Jamidan Abdullah, in a statement said over the past two days, a total of 49 locations have been raided, including an area in Bakun today.

He said that 10 individuals, including the owner and supervisor of a sawmill, had their statements recorded to facilitate investigations into illegal logging activities, graft, and tax evasion.

"30 more accounts have been frozen, including that of a state assemblyman's. About 1,200 timber logs were seized, including 600 from Belaga, in the Bakun area," he said.

MACC expanded the raid to Bakun after yesterday's state-wide raid in 48 locations, where 500 timber logs have been confiscated.

Mohamad Jamidan said investigations will be carried out under Sections 17(a) and 17(b) of the MACC Act 2009 and Section 4 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001.

The operation, which he assured will be conducted on a regular basis, involved 400 enforcement officers from various agencies.

Yesterday, MACC said it has frozen 375 bank accounts totalling more than RM560 million in the joint operation to clamp down on illegal timber activities in the state.

The raids were carried out simultaneously at 13 locations in Miri, 12 in Kuching and Sibu, six in Bintulu, three in Bakun and two in Kapit.

Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem in November last year had warned the logging bosses in the state that he would “put the fear of God into people who are dishonest”, and issued his sternest warning yet on illegal logging.

He said Sarawakians must not tolerate corruption anymore because millions had been lost in revenue and the state had also gained a bad reputation internationally.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated case, MACC said several bank accounts amounting to RM4 million, belonging to a Sarawak assistant minister, have been frozen pending investigations into alleged misuse of funds.

Mohamad Jamidan said the action was taken following a report lodged against the suspect, involving a contract for the RM250 million Baitulmakmur II, a 16-storey building in Petra Jaya.

He said MACC have recorded statements from the suspect, a businessman in his 50s, and several others to facilitate investigations. – The Malaysian Insider