AFTER months of coming under scrutiny from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the former head of the covert Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation (MEIO) has been charged with criminal breach of trust involving US$12 million (RM50.4 million).
Hasanah Abdul Hamid, the former Director-General of the MEIO, was charged at the Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur over the funds meant to be used for the historic general elections in May, which saw the downfall of the long-ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.
The former civil servant was an ally of embattled former Prime Minister Najib Razak who was booted from office over corruption allegations. She is accused of stealing the funds in her capacity as the DG of the MEIO while she was entrusted with the money.
The funds which she allegedly pocketed, reportedly belonged to Umno, the lynchpin party of the coalition led by Najib that saw a shock defeat in the May 9 elections.
The prosecution alleged the offence took place while she was in the office of the department in Putrajaya, the federal administrative capital, between Apr 30 and May 9.
The offence, under Section 409 of the Penal Code, carries a maximum 20 years jail, whipping and fine, according to the New Straits Times.
Hasanah lawyer, Shaharudin Ali, said his client has strongly denied the allegations and recorded a not guilty plea in court. She was released on RM500,000 (US$125,000) bail.
Hasanah’s arrest and subsequent charge in court came following the recent arrests of seven other officers from her agency, which worked directly under the prime minister’s department.
A previous report in MalaysiaKini said security personnel at the department allegedly made off RM3.5 million (US$875,000) in cash on the night of May 9, after learning of BN’s defeat in the election.
In recent months, Hasanah had courted controversy after a letter she wrote, calling for the US Central Intelligence Agency to endorse Najib’s re-election bid, was reported in the media.
Hasanah is among a string of top civil servants, including the country’s attorney-general, who was removed from office in a purge of Najib’s backers after the elections.
The letter she wrote called on the US government to support Najib, describing him as a “friend” of America, while painting his rival Dr Mahathir Mohamad as anti-west.
Najib faced a fresh round of charges in the Kuala Lumpur court on Thursday with the country’s former treasury secretary-general with misusing RM6.6 billion ringgit (US$1.6 billion) of public money.
According to the AFP, Najib has now been hit with 38 charges since losing power, most related to allegations that he and his cronies plundered vast sums from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad sovereign wealth fund.