PUTRAJAYA – Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today stated that his letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was not a support letter to not charge Malaysian Paul Phua who was facing legal action in the United States.
He said the letter written to FBI deputy director Mark F. Giuliano last Dec 18 was to explain Phua’s status.
Ahmad Zahid said as the minister responsible for national security, he stated that the 14K Triad did not exist in Malaysia and that Paul Phua was not a member of the secret society in Malaysia.
He said the sending of such a letter was not an issue as the country’s previous home ministers had written and issued such letters to explain on matters in their capaciity as the minister responsibe for national security.
“So, using my discretion, I had issued the letter explaining Paul Phua’s status to the FBI. It was not a support letter for him not to be charged.”
Ahmad Zahid said this at a news conference after delivering his new year message at the ministry’s monthly assembly, here.
Phua and his son, Darren Phua Wai Kit, are now under house arrest in the United States and facing court charges for sending out betting information and carrying out illegal gambling activities in Las Vegas during the football World Cup 2014 tournament.
Paul Phua, who is well known in the professional poker playing circuit, had taken part in the Big One For One Drop championship in the World Poker Series 2012.
He was placed sixth in the European Poker Tour Grand Final Monte Carlo 100k Super High Roller 2014, and is suspected of being involved in the 14K Triad, a secret society and international drug trafficking syndicate.
Following his arrest, his lawyer from the legal firm, Chesnoff & Schonfeld, had asked Ahmad Zahid to issue a letter to Giuliano to confirm that Phua is not a 14K Triad member and that the secret society does not exist in Malaysia.
Ahmad Zahid also said that his issuing of the letter to the FBI was not on the request of the US government but the lawyer handling Phua’s case and that it (sendig of letter from him) was arranged through Messrs. Shafee & Co.
On questions raised with regard to the content of the letter pertaining to Phua assisting the government in security matters, the minister said this could not be divulged as it involved security issues categorised as ‘big secret’ and also protected under the Official Secrets Act 1972.
Ahmad Zahid said the controversy was explained to the cabinet yesterday and his explanation was accepted by the cabinet ministers.
He also stressed that the government did not at all support the actions of any individual linked to any criminal organisation, including Paul Phua.
He said the home ministry was committed and would not compromise in combating unhealthy activities like gangsterism, gambling and drug abuse and trafficking.
“The issue of the letter will only spur us to continue fighting crime right down to its roots,” he said. – BERNAMA