KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – Former chief minister of Sabah Musa Aman was charged with graft Monday, the latest figure from Malaysis’a toppled scandal-plagued government to be targeted in an anti-corruption drive.
Since its shock victory in May elections, the government of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has filed dozens of corruption charges against the former leader Najib Razak, his wife Rosmah Mansor and a string of other ex-officials associated with the long-ruling former regime.
On Monday, Musa, the influential former chief minister of the eastern state of Sabah, was charged with 35 counts of graft for allegedly receiving US$63 million in bribes while awarding timber concessions.
He was one of many entrenched politicians from the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party to be unseated at the polls by a Mahathir-led reformist alliance.
Musa, 67, was arrested by anti-graft officials and brought to a Kuala Lumpur court where he pleaded not guilty to the charges.
“I will fight this case to clear my name,” Musa told reporters as he exited court after being released on a bail of two million ringgit (US$479,000).
Musa formerly headed UMNO in Sabah, Malaysia’s second biggest state that is rich in oil, gas and timber. He is the older brother of former foreign minister Anifah Aman.
The once-powerful UMNO, the main party in the Barisan Nasional coalition that had ruled Malaysia since its independence from Britain in 1957, has been rocked by desertions after its humiliating defeat.
Former Prime Minister Najib, who is out on bail, faces around 38 charges, most related to allegations that he and his cronies plundered billions of dollars from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.
Among those who have been charged in a widening anti-corruption drive are a former deputy prime minister, a former treasury secretary general and the ex-chief of a spy agency.