KUALA LUMPUR: As the Securities Commission (SC) and the police get set to investigate Tan Sri Azam Baki (pic) over his shares trading controversy, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner has maintained his innocence, saying that he is ready to face questioning if the need arises.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has broken his silence over the matter, saying that action can only be taken after the SC and the police complete their investigations.
Yesterday morning, reporters had attempted to get Azam’s comments on the controversy during a surprise work visit he made at the Jinjang River flood reservoir in Taman Wahyu, Kuala Lumpur.
But Azam refused to comment on the matter when asked during an impromptu press conference at a park near the reservoir.
Reporters again attempted to get his comments after he visited another construction site nearby, but he would not budge.
“No comment,” he said before being driven away in a blue BMW just before noon.
Later in the afternoon, six out of seven members of the MACC’s Anti-Corruption Advisory Board (ACAB) issued a statement to dissociate themselves from board chairman Tan Sri Abu Zahar Ujang’s earlier remarks defending Azam.
When contacted, one of the six, Prof Datuk Dr Mohammad Agus Yusoff, said the reason why he and the others decided to issue the statement was because the shares trading controversy implicating Azam wasn’t even addressed in board meetings.
“We also did not agree for the chairman to conduct the press conference; the statement was made in his own (capacity).
“That’s why we made this statement to clarify the matter – that the chairman’s views were personal, not of the board’s,” he said.
Azam told The Star yesterday evening that he was prepared to meet any authorities or bodies seeking information and clarification on the use of his shares trading account by his brother.
He also said he was ready to meet with the police, who will be investigating the case.
He added that he was willing to explain to the Parliamentary Special Committee on Corruption (JKMR) as well if he was called.
“I will give my cooperation,” he said.
The MACC chief commissioner and the SC have set an appointment to meet sometime next week.
Meanwhile, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said investigations into Azam’s case were in accordance with the law.
“I am aware that many are demanding for action to be taken against Azam.
“However, I would like to remind everyone that this matter is still under investigation and we are only able to make a decision upon completion of investigations by the SC and the police,” he said in a statement in which he also urged for calm.
Dewan Negara president Tan Sri Rais Yatim said yesterday that JKMR was scheduled to meet on Jan 13 to discuss the issue involving Azam to establish the facts of the case.
On Wednesday, Azam told a media conference that he had explained to the anti-corruption advisory board that he had given his younger brother permission to use his trading account to acquire shares in the open market sometime in 2015.
Azam had also said he had informed his superiors on the matter back then and his brother had transferred the shares to his own account a year later.
Allegations recently surfaced that Azam owned a substantial number of shares in Gets Global Bhd as well as Excel Force MSC Bhd between 2015 and 2016 when he was the MACC director of investigations.
Azam maintained that he did not commit any wrongdoing.
Abu Zahar had addressed the media to explain the matter on the same day.
On Friday, four PKR MPs lodged a police report against Azam, asking that he be investigated for his remarks made at a press conference on Wednesday because they said they could potentially violate Section 25 of the Securities Industry (Central Depositories) Act 1991.
Section 25 of the said Act states that every security account opened with a central depository must be in the name of the beneficial owner of the deposited securities or in the name of the authorised nominee.
Civil society groups have also urged Azam to go on garden leave while the investigations are being held.
There are also growing calls for him to drop his letter of demand issued against anti-graft activist Lalitha Kunaratnam, who wrote a series of online posts regarding the controversy.
Azam has demanded that Lalitha issue a public apology within 14 days, delete the articles about him on a portal and pay RM10mil in damages for “tarnishing his reputation”.