Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki speaks to the media during a special press conference in Putrajaya January 11, 2022. — Bernama pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 — Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki has been embroiled in a share trading controversy that is now the subject of at least two investigations.
Azam is being investigated by the Securities Commission for allowing his brother to operate his share-trading account and has been summoned by a parliamentary select committee over the same matter.
Here is a timeline of the controversy.
In October 2021, an anonymously-operated Twitter account named Edisi Siasat began posting allegations of irregularity at the MACC and the police, eventually naming Azam as among those involved.
It alleged Azam purchased millions of shares in a company back in 2015, questioning how a civil servant was able to afford these.
Activist Lalitha Kunaratnam reports on controversy
On October 26, 2021, activist Lalitha Kunaratnam wrote an article titled “Business Ties Among MACC Leadership: How Deep Does It Go?” on the Independent News Service (INS) website.
In it, she cited publicly accessible records to show stock trading activities purportedly of Azam and his brother, Nasir Baki.
Lalitha went on to question if Nizam had declared his millions of shares as required under Section 10 of the Public Officers Regulation (Conduct and Discipline) 1993.
The section states that all public servants must declare both movable properties, such as money in bank accounts, motor vehicles, jewelleries, firearms, shares, warrants, stocks, bonds and securities, as well as immovable properties, such as land, landed properties, and of course, business ownership or directorship.
Edisi Siasat becomes Edisi Khas
After it backed Lalitha on her allegations, Edisi Siasat was repeatedly reported to Twitter, leading to its eventual suspension on November 28, 2021.
The person or persons behind the account continued to communicate with followers using a previously established Telegram account, in which it was alleged the corruption reached the highest levels of the Home Ministry.
It further claimed the ministry was protecting Azam as it was allegedly aware of the corruption involving other officials.
On December 1, 2021, the account reemerged on Twitter, this time under the handle of Edisi Khas.
Upon its return, it accused several ministers of collusion to protect Azam.
Edisi Khas posts shareholding records
On December 9, 2021, Edisi Khas posted a shareholding analysis of Gets Global Berhad (formerly known as KBES Berhad) that detailed the equity of its top 30 stakeholders as of March 31, 2016.
This appeared to show Azam as the owner of over a million shares and his brother, Nasir, as that of 3.7 million more.
It also posted further documents that appeared to name Azam as the owner of 2.1 million warrants in Excel Force MSC Berhad.
MPs call for probe on Azam Baki’s sahreholdings
On December 14, 2021 PKR MP Sivarasa Rasiah filed an urgent motion for Parliament to discuss the allegations against Azam but this was rejected by the Speaker
Two weeks later, six federal lawmakers proposed an independent investigation by a parliamentary select committee into the controversy.
MACC panel member Terrence Gomez quits
On December 27, Professor Edmund Terrence Gomez announced he was resigning from the MACC Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel, alleging inaction over the allegations surrounding Azam.
Gomez said his three emails to panel chairman Borhan Dollah and MACC Anti-Corruption Advisory Board chairman Tan Sri Abu Zahar Nika Ujang failed to elicit any response.
Azam finally breaks silence
On January 5, Azam responded to the allegations at last but did not deny the stock transactions.
Instead, he claimed the trades had been executed by his brother using Azam’s share-trading account.
He further claimed he previously explained this to Abu Zahar, who accepted his explanation.
However, Azam saying he allowed his brother to use his trading account appeared to be an admission of his violation of the Securities Industry (Central Depositories) Act (SICDA).
Securities Commission summons Azam
The Securities Commission (SC) said the same day that it would summon Azam and others involved to explain his remarks about allowing Nasir to trade using his account.
The SC said Section 25 of the SICDA required every securities account opened with a central depository to be in the name of the beneficial owner or authorised nominee while Section 29A required all trades to be effected only by the beneficial owner or authorised nominee.
Azam demands damages, apology from Lalitha
On January 6, Lalitha disclosed that Azam’s lawyers had served her with a letter of demand for a public apology, retraction, and RM10 million in damages over the allegations she made against him.
PM Ismail Sabri addresses controversy
On January 8, Prime Minister Ismail Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob at last commented on the controversy involving Azam Baki, whose commission came under the former’s authority.
Ismail noted that the relevant authorities were investigating the matter, including the SC and the MACC.
MACC advisory board members disavow Abu Zahar’s comments
On the same day, six MACC advisory board members distanced themselves from Abu Zahar’s remarks that cleared Azam of any wrongdoing in the controversy.
The six — Tan Sri Ismail Omar, Datuk Seri Azman Ujang, Datuk Seri Akhbar Satar, Datuk Hamzah Kassim, Datuk David Chua Kok Te and Prof Datuk Dr Mohammad Agus Yusoff — said that the Abu Zahar’s statement did not reflect the decision of the board as a whole.
Azam says will not resign over controversy
On January 12, Azam said he will not resign and insisted he could only be removed as the MACC chief by the Yang diPertuan Agong.
PSC summons Azam
On January 12, members of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSC) on Agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department said it has summoned Azam to explain himself over the controversy.
The hearing has been set for January 19.