Friday, July 1

Witness says pressured to disclose source of money

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Christine Fiona

KOTA KINABALU (April 13): The Sessions Court here on Wednesday heard that a  friend of  Ag Mohd Tahir Mohd Talib had to say that the RM14,000 cash found in a condominium six years ago was allegedly from the former State Water Department director because she was under pressure, anxious and afraid at that time.

Christine Fiona M Ponsoi, 36, who was testifying before judge Abu Bakar Manat, recalled that she was under pressure and had to say that when the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) repeatedly asked her questions.

She was giving evidence in the continuation trial of Ag Mohd Tahir, 58, Ag Mohd Tahir’s wife Fauziah Ag Piut, 55 and former deputy director of the department, 68-year-old Lim Lam Beng @ Lim Chee Hong.

When cross examined by counsel Marcel Jude Joseph, who represented Ag Mohd Tahir and Fauziah, the ninth witness said that the RM14,000 which was in 140 pieces of RM100 notes was found inside a purple coloured plastic bag kept inside a black backpack in the condominium.

The witness further said that the MACC took the money out from the backpack and counted it using their hands without using gloves.

To a question, the witness testified that she also has savings other than the RM14,000.

Lawyer: The RM14,000 was just money for rainy day, do you agree?

Witness: Yes.

To another question, the witness further testified that she was not sure how many MACC personnel came to the condominium but maybe two or three or more and all the officers are male except one named Shazwani.

“I can only recall it was during lunch time and after lunch I went to my parents’ house and was surprised that there were MACC personnel waiting for me.

“They took my IC and when I’m about to go to my office, I was asked not to go anywhere until Shazwani came. When Shazwani came, they brought me to the condominium,” the witness explained.

Lawyer: So you were brought to your condominium by MACC and it was against your will?

Witness: Yes.

She further said that she was not referred to why they brought her to the condominium and she was not told to contact a lawyer to accompany her or to go to the condominium.

To another question, the witness said that she did not remember the amount spent to do renovation at the condominium.

She said that the renovation in the condominium, which has three rooms, included changing floorings to wooden floorings, installation of cabinets, renovation at the kitchen, wall cabinets and wallpapers.

Lawyer: Can you tell the court what are your duties in your job?

Witness: I’m business development officer. I usually  analyze business proposals.
Lawyer: That means you look into costings and budget?

Witness: Yes.

Lawyer: But for some strange reasons, you had appointed an interior decorator but you are unable to give the court specific details of renovation, that means your witness statement relating to renovation costs of RM300,000 is an exaggeration, yes or no?

Witness: I don’t remember but it could be an exaggeration.

To another question, she said that the condominium  she purchased was not under Ag Mohd Tahir’s name.

Under re-cross examination by deputy public prosecutor Mahadi Abdul Jumaat, the witness said that she was allowed to go home by the MACC at 10pm.

To a question by Mahadi, the witness also said that she was not sure how much the exact costs for the renovation and there was a possibility that it could be around RM300,000.

However, to another question, she testified that the payment of the renovation was handled by her but the source of money was allegedly from Ag Mohd Tahir.

Christine explained that her income did not qualify her for the housing loan.

She further said that the remaining balance of the loan which was RM280,000 was allegedly paid by Ag Mohd Tahir.

To another question relating to rainy day money of RM14,000, she said that the money was allegedly from Ag Mohd Tahir.

When asked to explain on why she said she had to say that the money was allegedly from Ag Mohd Tahir, she explained that during the raid, she had no clue on what had happened. She was not stable and even up to today she is still not stable and she is also suffering from stress due to the incident.

Meanwhile, the 11th witness, a childhood friend of Ag Mohd Tahir, testified that the RM9.1 million found inside a car did not belong to him or his company.

Ampuan Hassim Ampuan Mahmot, 55, testified that on October 4, 2016 when the money was found, the car was under the care of Ag Mohd Tahir.

In his witness statement, Ampuan Hassim said that the car was allegedly bought by Ag Mohd Tahir but using the name of Ampuan Hassim’s company.

The witness further said that his other car, whom he wanted to sell, was also allegedly bought by Ag Mohd Tahir for RM200,000.

The witness said that in 2012 his brother met Ag Mohd Tahir to take the cash and his brother later gave the witness the cash. The witness had kept it and not banked into the bank account.

The 10th witness, who is an assistant enforcement officer from the Road Transport Department, M. Sanin Samian, 42, testified that both the cars were registered under a company and no information was provided at the ownership columns for these cars as they were bought with cash or the car loans had been settled.

Ag Mohd Tahir, Fauziah and Lim were accused of money laundering involving cash and bank savings amounting to RM61.48 million, as well as unlawful possession of luxury goods.

Ag Mohd Tahir faces 11 charges framed under Section 4 (1)(b) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 while Fauziah and Lim were each charged with 19 and four charges respectively of the same Act.

Ag Mohd Tahir was also charged under Section 4(1)(a) of the same Act plus another two joint charges with his wife under Section 4 (1)(b) also of the same Act.

The alleged offences against Ag Mohd Tahir and his wife were committed at the former Water Department director’s office here, Townhouse Graceville in Sembulan, OCBC, UOB,  Bank Islam, CIMB, Bank Rakyat here, Puncak Luyang Condo here, Kingfisher Sulaman and PNB Tower in Kuala Lumpur between October 4 and November 4, 2016.

Lim was alleged to have committed the offences at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) office in Jalan UMS and a house in Jalan Penempatan here between October 13 and November 8, 2016.

Deputy public prosecutor Haresh Prakash Somiah also handled the trial while Lim was represented by counsel Datuk Tan Hock Chuan, Baldev Singh, Karpaljit Singh and Kelvin Wong.

The trial resumes today.