KOTA KINABALU- The sessions court here has adjourned the joint trial of four individuals accused of laundering money from the Sabah Water Department (SWD) pending a decision from the Court of Appeal on an application made by the Department’s former deputy director, Teo Chee Kong.
Judge Abu Bakar Manat adjourned the trial for this week and for June 4-7 after the prosecutor requested a stay until Teo’s appeal case is completed.
On May 18, the Court of Appeal had allowed Teo to be suspended from the trial pending the court’s decision on the accused’s application against Abu Bakar hearing the trial, and a joint trial with three other accused.
Although the stay order only involves Teo, deputy public prosecutor Tengku Amir Zaki Tengku Abdul Rahman, who represented the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), requested that the sessions court postpone the hearing to facilitate a trial for all the accused.
In adjourning the trial, Abu Bakar said the joint trial order is still valid as at present and that the application for a recusal order for him not to hear the case is a relevant issue to all accused.
“As such, the trial for this case for all the accused is allowed to be adjourned until a proper decision by the court of appeal, as well as the recusal order, is (reached).
“Based on that, all trial (sessions) from May 21-24 are adjourned; and June 4-7 are also vacated,” he said.
Abu Bakar said other trial dates – Jun 30-31; Aug 1-2; Sept 3-6, 18-20; and Oct 1-4 will be maintained.
He also fixed Oct 22-25; Nov 12-15, 26-29; and Dec 10-13 as new joint trial dates for Teo, former SWD director Awang Mohd Tahir Mohd Talib and his wife Fauziah Piut, as well as retired SWD deputy director Lim Lam Beng.
Teo was represented by a counsel team led by Roland Cheng; Lim, by a counsel team led by Datuk Tan Hock Chuan; while Awang Mohd Tahir and Fauziah were represented by a counsel team led by Marcel Jude Joseph.
During the hearing, Marcel agreed to the adjournment, stressing that allowing the trial to be carried out while Teo “acts as a bystander” is unfair to all.
He also noted that they had received 181 new documents and will need some time to go through all the papers.
Tan also said that they had just obtained 25 additional documents in the form of a CD from an investigating officer and will also need time review it, apart from getting instructions from his client.
On Dec 13 last year, Teo, 53, claimed trial to 146 charges of money laundering involving RM32.93 million.
All charges fall under Section 4(1)(a) and Section 4(1)(b) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001.
In Oct 2016, Teo and Awang Mohd Tahir were remanded by the MACC as part of a probe into the alleged mishandling of funds for water infrastructure projects in Sabah, before being released on bail.
On Dec 29, 2016, Awang Mohd Tahir and Fauziah pleaded not guilty to 31 money-laundering charges involving RM59.1 million, as well two counts of possessing 575 pieces of jewellery and 346 other valuable items, acquired through illegal means.
Lim, meanwhile, was charged with four counts of money-laundering involving RM2.38 million.- New Straits Times