Anti-graft watchdog moots independent investigation to probe MACC chief Azam over stock trading storm

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 9 — Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) has today called for the establishment of an independent investigation body to probe Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief Tan Sri Azam Baki, who is currently embroiled in controversy over stocks acquired back in 2015.

Expressing concerns about the state of the enforcement agency, TI-M president Muhammad Mohan said the independent investigation body would provide Azam the platform to defend himself and the agency he leads against the allegations levelled against them.

“TI-M reiterates our call for an independent investigation with full transparency to be initiated immediately on this issue as it involves the integrity and reputation of the MACC and the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board.

“We urge the government to commission an independent investigation body consisting of properly qualified and independent persons to uncover the facts of the case and determine if any laws or rules were broken.

“Such a body should be answerable to and shall report their findings to the Parliamentary Special Committee on Corruption for its review and recommendations,” he said in a statement here.

Following Azam’s admittance to proxy stock trading and investigations by the Securities Commission (SC) over possible conflict of interest, Muhammad stressed that the rakyat deserved to know the truth.

“TI-M believes that only prompt affirmative action and transparency from the government will help to protect the integrity and reputation of the MACC and the fight against corruption and abuse of power in our country,” Muhammad said.

The SC had last week announced that Azam will be called in for questioning this week over alleged violation of stock trading laws.

This was after Azam ended his silence over his alleged acquisition of millions of shares in two public-listed companies in 2015. In a news conference last week, he admitted that he had allowed his brother, Nasir Baki, to use his share trading account to buy those shares.

Citing Section 25 of the Securities Industry (Central Depositories) Act, the SC said every securities account opened with a central depository must be in the name of the beneficial owner of the deposited securities or in the name of an authorised nominee.

Azam has been under public scrutiny in recent weeks over his acquisition of millions of shares in two public-listed companies back in 2015.

At the same news conference, the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board chairman Tan Sri Abu Zahar Ujang Abu Zahar said an internal inquiry last November 24 cleared Azam of any wrongdoing, adding that all the shares had subsequently been transferred to Nasir in 2015.

Abu Zahar’s remarks however, did not sit well with six of the ACAB members — Tan Sri Ismail Omar, Datuk Seri Azman Ujang, Datuk Seri Akhbar Satar, Datuk Hamzah Kassim, Datuk David Chua Kok Te and Prof Datuk Mohammad Agus Yusoff.

In a joint statement yesterday, the six said Abu Zahar’s statement was his personal view and that it did not reflect the decision of the board as a whole.

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