Monday, January 24, 2022

MACC adviser says nothing to hide over remarks on Azam

Abu Zahar Ujang says he is ready to be investigated by any organisation and will leave it to the government and Agong to determine his position as board chairman.

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The chairman of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) advisory board today said he had nothing to hide in relation to recent remarks clearing the chief of the anti-graft body of conflict of interest in the purchase of company shares.

Anti-Corruption Advisory Board (ACAB) chairman Abu Zahar Ujang also said he was ready to be investigated by any organisation over his Jan 5 statement on Azam Baki.

“If, through my statement to the media on Jan 5, I had given rise to unintended understandings to the extent that it tarnishes the name of MACC as a whole, which was never my intention, I leave it to the absolute discretion of the government and His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to determine my position as ACAB chairman – a trust I have carried out thus far without taking any sides.

“I will of course abide by any decision made,” he said.

Zahar at a press conference had cleared Azam of conflict of interest in the purchase of shares from certain companies in 2015.

He said the board members were satisfied with Azam’s explanation, and that no further investigation would be conducted.

“The purchase was made on the open market and without conflict of interest,” he said, adding that the shares were subsequently transferred to Azam’s brother, Nasir Baki.

Zahar also said that the board would refer the matter to Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob following calls by opposition leaders for government action, although a royal commission of inquiry would not be necessary.

The issue arose following a series of blog articles by an activist linked to local NGO C4 Center, claiming conflict of interest in the ownership of company shares.

Azam subsequently issued a demand letter to the writer of the articles, Lalitha Kunaratnam, with the MACC lodging a police report against her describing her claims as false and unsubstantiated by evidence.

Top Pakatan Harapan leaders had nevertheless called for an investigation into Zahar, saying both he and Azam should be placed on leave for the duration of the probe.

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