'Where's the P12 billion?' asks Malaysian opposition leader
MANILA (UPDATED) - Sabah officials deliberately blocked the deportation of scam artist Manuel Amalilio, a Malaysian parliament member claimed Friday.
Sivarasa Rasiah, however, did not name the officials who prevented Amalilio, the alleged brains behind the P12-billion Aman Futures scam, from being brought to the Philippines to face multiple criminal cases.
"It's quite clear to us, having spoken to people here, that Sabah authorities deliberately blocked Amalilio's deportation," he told ANC.
Sivarasa confirmed that the alleged con artist is a relative of Sabah chief minister. "Amalilio's mother is a cousin of Musa Aman, the chief minister of Sabah," he said.
"There are a lot of questions about this entire episode. It's clear people in Malaysia don't want Amalilio to be returned to Philippines," he said.
Musa, in a statement, admitted that Amalilio is a relative but denied interfering in the case.
"I was alerted of online allegations that I had intervened to prevent the deportation of this individual to the Philippines," he said. "Let me make it very clear that the Sabah State Government did not and will not intervene in this matter."
"I have a large family and I have just recently been informed that this individual is a distant relative," he added. "Whether or not Amalilio is a relative, the authorities should investigate the matter and take the necessary action. No one is above the law."
After his failed deportation, Amalilio was sentenced to 2-year imprisonment in Malaysia for possession of a fake Philippine passport.
"It sounds to me that's a self-serving plea of guilt intended so he won't be repatriated back to the Philippines," Sivarasa said.
The passport case also drew questions from Darrell Leiking, deputy secretary general of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).
"I wonder who made that complaint about (Amalilio's) fake Philippine passport. I don't know who came up with the (case)," he told ANC.
Sivarasa, a lawyer, said Amalilio has both Malaysian and Philippine citizenship papers.
"[Amalilio] appears to have Malaysian documentation, but he also has legal Filipino documentation," he said.
Sivarasa said investigators should try to find out where Amalilio and Aman Futures officials hid the money they allegedly earned from the scam that duped thousands of people in the Visayas and Mindanao.
"We need to find out something very important -- where is this P12 billion? Nobody seems to know where the money is," he said.
Sivarasa said he will bring the case to the attention of Malaysian Prime Minister Mohd Najib Abdul Razak.
"We are going to make an appeal to the Malaysian prime minister that he has to intervene, make sure there's cooperation with Philippine authorities," he said.
Although the Philippines and Malaysia have no bilateral extradition treaty, the 2 countries are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and have signed a treaty on mutual legal assistance on criminal matters.
"We're morally and legally obliged to assist, not impede," Sivarasa said.
The PKR sent the 2 representatives to Manila to meet with Philippines authorities and the victims who were allegedly duped Amalilio, according to Malaysian media.
"This is a serious case that reflects on corruption in Malaysia. The Sabah chief minister has, more than once, been implicated in allegedly defending graft perpetrators," PKR vice-president Tian Chua told malaysiakini.com.
Tian Chua, who is a member of the Malaysian parliament, expressed concern over the Amalilio case and Sabah officials' failure to allow Philippine authorities to bring him to Manila to face trial.
"As a member of parliament and on behalf of the Malaysian people, we are concerned about what is happening. This involves the nation’s image. We feel obliged to find the truth," he said.
"We also express regret that the Malaysian government did not cooperate, but obstructed the Filipino government in this issue,” he added.