What we know about Umno’s ‘secret’ account and why it’s important
Published 12 Feb 2021, 5:58 pm
Prosecutors in a forfeiture suit Umno is involved in made a shocking revelation in court on Wednesday that the party allegedly has a secret unaudited bank account to receive political donations.
Further details are expected to be revealed in court but for now, this is what we know.
When was the account opened?
According to The Edge, prosecutors told the High Court in Kuala Lumpur that the account was opened in 1988 at Southern Bank’s Wisma Genting branch.
Southern Bank was acquired by CIMB Bank in 2006.
This was the same year Umno was deregistered over having illegal branches. The party was later re-registered as Umno Baru.
Who knew about the account?
Prosecutors said party leaders in 1988 were aware of the account including then Umno president Dr Mahathir Mohamad, deputy president the late Ghaffar Baba, and treasurer Daim Zainuddin.
The Edge reported that subsequent presidents, deputy presidents and treasurers would have known about the account as they managed it.
This would appear to corroborate Mahathir’s remarks in 2015, that during his time as party president, political donations would go into an account managed by three trustees including himself.
Mahathir said when he resigned as president, he directed the cash in the account to be handed over to his successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
How much money is in the account?
The account reportedly had RM193 million in it early last year.
However, The Edge cited police investigations as saying the amount was withdrawn in the middle of last year and transferred to an NGO called “Kelab Prihatin Graduan”.
The account’s present balance is said to be slightly more than RM2,700.
Why is it a big deal?
According to prosecutors, police found that this Umno account was not audited, and the money is believed to have never been accounted for in Umno’s annual financial statements.
“The unaudited political donations in cash also contravened Section 14(1)(d) and (d [b]) of the Societies Act 1966,” prosecutors said.
Section 14(1)(d) requires a registered society to furnish its accounts for the previous financial year together with a balance sheet showing the financial position of the association at the close of the financial year.
This must be submitted within 60 days after an annual general meeting is held.
Section 14(1)(d [b]) also requires societies to disclose a description of any money it receives from any persons, organisations, authorities, governments or agencies from outside Malaysia.
The Registrar of Societies is empowered to deregister any society that wilfully contravenes any provisions under the Societies Act.