KOTA KINABALU – Bail for former Sabah Water Department (SWD) director Ag Mohd Tahir Ag Talib and his wife Fauziah Piut who are accused of money laundering has been halved following an appeal made by the couple Friday.
The High Court here reduced the RM10 million bail for Ag Mohd Tahir to RM5 million, with RM2 million to be fully deposited, while Fauziah’s bail is now RM1 million from RM2 million, with RM500,000 to be fully deposited.
Both have to name two local sureties each to pay the remaining amount if should they abscond, and must report to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission office here once every fortnight.
High Court Judge, Justice Ravinthran Paramaguru who heard the appeal said that bail in high amounts is predominantly imposed to secure the attendance of the accused.
“It doesn’t need to be at a percentage or in accordance to the subject matter. It just needs to be sufficient to ensure attendance of the accused,” he was quoted as saying in a news portal, the Malay Mail online.
The husband and wife accused were unable to raise the initial combined bail of RM12 million and have been locked up at the Kota Kinabalu central prison complex since they were first charged for money laundering activities.
The report also quoted lawyer for the accused PJ Pereira as saying that although the new amount was still on “the higher end,” it was fair.
Pereira said the accused would keep collecting the said amount and hoped they would be out soon.
He had earlier asked for the bail to be reduced by 90 per cent from RM10 million to RM1 million for Ag Mohd Tahir, and from RM2 million to RM200,000 for Fauziah.
Deputy public prosecutor or the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Muhamad Anas Mahadzir said that the bail, at RM5 million, was still one of the highest ever set in the country.
Ravinthran, according to the Malay Mail, said he had considered the arguments of both the accused, and had agreed that the former bail was set in accordance to the gravity of the crime and with sound considerations.
On December 29, Ag Mohd Tahir, 54, and Fauziah, 51, along with former SWD deputy director Lim Lam Peng were charged with 37 counts of misappropriating infrastructure funds.
Ag Mohd Tahir was charged with eight counts of possession of over RM56.9 million in cash and in four bank accounts; two counts of possessing six luxury cars; one count of possessing 86 watches of various brands; and one count of being directly involved in a RM14,000 cash transaction to Cristine Fiona M. Ponsoi.
The charges were under Section 4(1)(b) and 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act.
Fauziah was charged under Section 4(1)(b) with 18 counts of possession of over RM2.2 million in 18 different bank accounts in Sabah and one count of possession of 93 bags of various brands that were allegedly proceeds from illegal activities.
The couple were also jointly charged under Section 4(1)(b) under two counts for possession of 575 pieces of gold jewellery and 346 other forms of jewellery.
Lam Beng, 62, who was an adviser to the State Finance Ministry at the time of his arrest, also claimed trial to the possession of RM2.38 million in proceeds from illegal activities. His bail was fixed at RM1 million.
The three cases will come up for re-mention on February 28 next year.