Azam Baki’s answer leaves more questions

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 6 – The Chief Commissioner of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Tan Sri Azam Baki’s answer that he had allowed his brother to use his trading account to acquire shares in two companies in 2015 in response to allegations that he owned two million shares in a public listed companies, has resulted in a barrage of more questions.

On Wednesday, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) Anti-Corruption Advisory Board also cleared Azam Baki of any conflict-of-interest action, further raising questions on whether the Board had the power to do so under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009.

Member of Parliament for Kepong, Lim Lip Eng had these questions:

“The Securities Commission Malaysia has the duty to state if Azam Baki has breached any securities law. Also, has the Attorney-General carried out a full investigation into Azam Baki’s case and cleared him of any wrongdoings?”

In a statement here today, Lim said Section 25 (6) of Securities Industry (Central Depositories) Act 1991 (SICDA) provides that “Any person who contravenes subsection (1), (2) or (5) shall be guilty and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding three million ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years or to both.”

Subsections (1), (2) and (5) of that section basically says that no trading of securities shall be carried out using the trading account of another person, unless he or she is an authorised depository agent who has opened and maintained a securities account with the central depository. 

Section 25A of SICDA also states that an authorised nominee shall hold deposited securities for one beneficial owner in respect of each securities account. Section 25A (3) of the same act provides that any person who contravenes this act shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding three million ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years or to both.

Lim also cited a case in May 2011, where the Securities Commission Malaysia compounded a woman RM25,000 for allowing another person to use her central depository system account at Arab-Malaysian Securities Sdn Bhd (now known as AmInvestment Bank Bhd) to trade in Nexnews Bhd shares for the period between 7 May 2007 and 10 May 2007.

Azam’s claim that he is not answerable to the public wrong, PSC has powers to investigate to improve existing laws

Two members of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSC) on Agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department, namely Kota Melaka MP Khoo Poay Tiong and Kota Kinabalu MP Chan Goong Hin expressed shock over Azam’s statement that he is not unanswerable to anyone, especially the public on the share ownership.

“We disagree with Azam’s statement purporting to oust the legislature’s jurisdiction in calling for an investigation into this scandal which would certainly affect the trust of the people in the MACC.”

They said a civil servant of his status would not be able to afford to buy the shares.

“His salary certainly do not commensurate with the value of the shares – he has to explain the source of the money used to purchase the shares.”

They also wanted to know if Azam had satisfied the criteria on asset declaration based on the government circular requiring civil servants to declare their assets.

There is also the question of potential conflict of interest as he will not be able to effectively conduct any investigation on companies that he is a shareholder in, they added.

“Azam is reminded that the MACC is a creation of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 (MACC Act), a statute passed by Parliament. He may claim that he is not answerable to anyone else, but we Members of Parliament as lawmakers have the powers to legislate accordingly. We can amend the act to tighten provisions and deal with any legal loopholes, if any, for the benefit of the people.

“Whilst the MACC Corruption Prevention Advisory Board exists to conduct its own investigation, it is not meant as a tool to clear MACC members of corruption.”

They also repeated their call for an urgent meeting of the PSC on Agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department to investigate the matter and Azam be called in as soon as possible to give evidence to the PSC so as to limit the damage to MACC.