[EXCLUSIVE] Missing US$12 million linked to 1MDB?

TEH ATHIRA YUSOF and MOHD HUSNI MOHD NOOR

KUALA LUMPUR: INVESTIGATORS are hot on the trail of the US$12 million (RM49 million) said to belong to the government, but allegedly found its way surreptitiously to the office of the Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation (MEIO).

The New Straits Times has learnt that the money was brought into the country sometime in mid-April, just one week before the 14th General Election, allegedly to fund the polls.

This developing case has since led the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to arrest Datuk Hasanah Abdul Hamid, who is former chief of MEIO, her deputy, who is also a Datuk, and six other officers at their office. Sources told the NST that the money was brought into the country all at once through Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

For the record, the biggest denomination of the United States currency is the US$100 bill.

It is also learnt that authorities have strong grounds to believe that the money was linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

“Investigators are still following the trail to establish where the huge sum of money is,” the NST was told.

Authorities are looking into how the stacks of cash could have been transported out of the source country and into Malaysia undetected. Also in the scope of their probe are those who handled the money from start to end.

Hasanah, 61, was remanded yesterday and will remain in MACC custody for five days.

She was picked up on Tuesday, a day after her deputy and the other six were remanded, to help shed light on the missing millions.

She was serving in the division, which is formerly known as the Research Department, under the Prime Minister’s Department (PMD), until recently.

MACC also remanded her deputy, as well as the other six, who are Administrative and Diplomatic Services (PTD) officers between Grades 44 and 48, for five days.

It is understood that it was during these initial investigations that more details came up on the missing US$12million.

This included the information that the missing amount was in US dollars.

Investigators are probing the individuals for abuse of power for personal gratification.

Both Hasanah and her deputy were arrested when they turned up at the MACC headquarters in Putrajaya, a day apart, to have their statements recorded.

The rest were picked up from the office.

They are in remand to facilitate probes under Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd