Barging Into Profit – The Chia Family Sue Yayasan Sabah For RM84.4million In Monopoly Row!

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Clearing out the Borneo Jungle – more profit for Musa Aman?

A court case, lodged in the High Court of Sabah in Sandakan in February, raises further questions over the business relationship between the Chief Minister, Musa Aman, and the family of Michael Chia, as well as the lawyer Richard Christopher Barnes.

Aman has denied that Michael Chia was his favoured ‘adopted son’ or that he has had any business relations with him.

Yet the court case now reveals that Chia’s father, a barging contractor named Chia Nyet Min, was granted a monopoly over the transportation of logs for Yayasan Sabah during the time that Musa Aman was its Chief Executive in 1997.

Chia’s companies, Kini Abadi Sdn Bhd and Imej Berlian Sdn Bhd, have enjoyed that monopoly ever since, but Chia is now suing for damages of RM84.4 million, because it says Yayasan broke the terms of the monopoly agreement by allowing another contractor to take over some areas of work since 2005.

Mysterious? – The Chia family, owners of Kini Abadi Sdn Bhd and Imej Berlian Sdn Bhd, are now suing Sabah Berjaya Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Yayasan Sabah, headed by their old friend the Chief Minister Musa Aman!

So, have the Chia family and Musa Aman now fallen out, or is this matter a little more complicated and devious?

Damages of RM84.4 million!

The fact that the damages for an infringement of this barging contract are being set at the enormous sum of RM84.4 million, gives a clear picture of the extreme value of the monopoly that Musa Aman’s Yayasan Subsidiary, Sabah Berjaya Sdn Bhd, awarded to Chia’s company.

It begs the question why did Musa Aman decide, as Chief Executive of Yayasan in 1997, to avoid open market competition for barging contractors and hand a state-backed monopoly to just one family?

Is it a coincidence that this company, Kini Abadi Sdn Bhd, just happens to be owned by the father of Michael Chia, the man the Chief Minister has now gone on public record to disown?

Shareholder – Michael Chia’s father Chia Nyet Min

After all, until his arrest for suspected money laundering in 2008, Michael Chia used to publicly call himself the ‘adopted son’ of Musa Aman and presented himself as the go-between for the Chief Minister and timber tycoons seeking concessions from Yayasan.

Chia Nyet Min – father of Michael Chia and the winner of an exclusive contract to hold the monopoly over the barging of logs from Yayasan Sabah’s timber concessions.

Documents presented in previous court cases testify to this fact, including letters written by the timber dealer Agus Hassan of Peluamas Sdn Bhd, describing Michael Chia as the go-between in negotiations for getting timber contracts [see previous coverage].


Now, however, the Chief Minister is denying the association with Chia.  This is despite the fact that we have presented bank statements showing that Michael Chia was sending standing payments to Musa Aman’s sons in Australia to fund their education expenses!

The denial also ignores the fact that both Michael Chia and his father have been given numerous timber concessions by Musa, through Yayasan Sabah.

And it flies in the face of the new information that we are now able to make public, which is that Musa had also even granted the Chia family the monopoly over the barging of all the logs transported for Yayasan in the Sandakan region of Sabah!

From our leaked MACC document – the Chia family’s dealings with Yayasan Sabah – no business contacts?

How can Musa deny that he has had a business relationship with Michael Chia and his father Chia Nyet Min when there are so many documented ties between this family and Yayasan Sabah, which he has so long been in charge of?

Background to a relationship – Musa and Chia family

Aman’s fortunes in life began to rise after he achieved the position of Party Treasurer for the West Malaysia-backed UMNO party in Sabah in 1992.  This was just before the party achieved its political take-over of the State.

UMNO lost the election in 1993, but then staged its coup by bribing enough ‘frog’ assemblymen from the winning party, in order to get the majority in the State Assembly and to wrest control from the lawful winners of the election.  They have kept tight control of Sabah ever since.

Soon after the UMNO take over, Musa Aman was parachuted in as Chief Executive of Yayasan Sabah.  After all Yayasan Sabah is the trustee of the state’s rich timber resources.  His was clearly a politically motivated appointment to ensure the party had control over this valuable sector.

Aman kept this position until he moved on to win a State Assembly seat himself and then to take over as Chief Minister – at which point he also returned as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Yayasan Sabah!

Back in charge at Yayasan – Musa Aman combines control of Sabah’s richest resource with his role as Chief Minister!

Despite his job at Yayasan of supposedly protecting Sabah’s forest reserves for its people and for future generations, Musa appears, instead, to have started cutting the whole lot down as fast as he could, while diverting millions into his own bank accounts (see our previous coverage).

And by further creating a barging monopoly for Chia’s Kini Abadi Sdn Bhd and Imej Berlian Sdn Bhd, Musa Aman also made sure that no one else could benefit from the transportation business and squeezed out local people from potential employment and profit.  Instead all the profit went to Chia’s company.

Timber traders and competitors were soon complaining that the monopoly meant bad service, higher prices and the loss of jobs for local people.  So why would Musa Aman insist on supporting it?

Another kickback opportunity?

Perhaps the Chief Minister would care to deny our inside information that the Chias were paying him RM5 in cash per m3 of logs transported under this monopoly?

After all this would make a real incentive for his awarding of the monopoly, which is otherwise hard to explain.

The latest agreement giving rights to Kini Abadi

Exclusive rights to transport wood

The contract between Kini Abadi and Yayasan’s subsidiary Sabah Berjaya Sdn Bhd, was renewed a number of times.

However, after a protracted row with timber traders, in particular the tycoon Andrew Lim, who complained to Yayasan bitterly over claims of bad service, Yayasan Sabah allowed some other contractors to come in.

This was the basis for the court case by Chia, since he claimed his agreed monopoly was being transgressed.

Chia’s deposition before the court (of which we have a copy) shows just how much the contract was worth. In his complaint he describes his company as having been appointed as the “exclusive agent” for barging wood extracted by Yayasan Sabah and then details how much timber was involved (below)

Extract from the court deposition by Kini Abadi Sdn Bhd – it shows the huge volume of timber to be transported, growing year on year!

The rates the Chias were allowed to charge for this transportation were laid out in the 2006 agreement, of which we also have a copy (below).

Lucrative – millions of m3 of wood to be charged these rates for transportation – how much was the kickback?

When Andrew Lim’s companies were allowed to start to use alternative barging contractors Chia claimed that the losses to his company amounted to the sum he is now demanding in damages RM84.4million.  He lays out his calculated losses in his deposition to the court (below).

RM84.494,948million to be precise! Chia calculates his losses from the partial loss of his monopoly that he has enjoyed for years, thanks to the good offices of Musa Aman!

Business partners fallen out, or just a new way to make money out of Yayasan’s resources?

Transporting Sabah’s logs

On the surface, it would appear that the once cosy relationship between Chia and Musa (which Musa now denies) has gone sour.  The businessman is suing the organisation which Musa heads and which had for years offered Chia such a very valuable monopoly.

On the other hand, insiders have pointed out that the Chia family would “never go against Musa”, from whom they have made millions and from whom they hold numerous valuable timber monopolies.

So, is this just another way to extract money from Yayasan Sabah?  After all this is only money from poor taxpayers, not from Musa himself.  The Chia’s, if they win the case, will walk off with RM84.4million of public money – no problem for Musa!

Barnes connection

Richard Christopher Barnes just happens to be the lawyer often used by Yayasan Sabah when it comes to such things as taking advice on the barging monopoly!

It is also surely noteworthy that the legal advisor to Yayasan Sabah on this matter of the monopoly has been none other than a firm called Shelley Yap.

The Chief lawyer at Shelly Yap is Richard Christopher Barnes, another individual from whom the Chief Minister is now trying to distance himself.

It was Barnes, who was arrested by the authorities along with Michael Chia over the alleged laundering of millions of US dollars worth of timber kickbacks from Sabah.

As we have demonstrated in earlier reports, Hong Kong investigators have shown that Barnes was receiving money from HSBC and UBS accounts managed by Michael Chia and then forwarding it into an account in the name of Musa Aman in Zurich.

The Chief Minister has been actively denying his links to these two men ever since.  Yet how can he deny the fact that he has worked with both of them closely over many years through his dealings with them at Yayasan Sabah?

It is a matter of record!

The Chief lawyer at Shelley Yap, who advises Yayasan Sabah on its monopoly? – Richard Christopher Barnes!

Barnes’ opinion on the subject of granting separate transportation licences to other companies was given to Yayasan Sabah in 2010.  He stated that this would be a breach of the monopoly handed to Kini Abadi and that legally they would be entitled to sue.

This is exactly the outcome that Yayasan now faces with the RM84.4million ringgit suit now tabled against them in the Court in Sandakan!



Keuntungan Mengangkut – Keluarga Chia Menyaman Yayasan Sabah Bernilai RM84.4 Juta Dalam Sengketa Monopoli!

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Sebuah kes mahkamah telah dikemukakan ke Mahkamah Tinggi Sabah di Sandakan dalam bulan Februari tahun ini, membangkitkan beberapa persoalan seterusnya mengenai hubungan perniagaan di antara Ketua Menteri Sabah, Musa Aman, dan keluarga Michael Chia, dan juga peguam Richard Christopher Barnes.

Sebelum ini Musa Aman telah menafikan bahawa Michael Chia adalah ‘anak angkat’ kegemarannya mahupun bahawa dia mempunyai sebarang kaitan perniagaan dengannya.

Malah kes mahkamah itu turut mendedahkan bahawa bapa Michael Chia, seorang kontraktor pengangkutan kayu balak bernama Chia Nyet Min, telah dianugerahkan monopoli mengangkut kayu balak untuk Yayasan Sabah ketika Musa Aman menjadi Ketua Eksekutif yayasan itu dalam tahun 1997.

Syarikat-syarikat milik Chia, Kini Abadi Sdn Bhd dan Imej Berlian Sdn Bhd, telah menikmati monopoli itu sejak sekian lama, namun kini Chia mengemukakan saman kerugian dan kerosakan berjumlah RM84.4 juta, kerana menurutnya Yayasan Sabah telah melanggari terma-terma dalam perjanjian dengan membenarkan kontraktor pengangkutan lain untuk beroperasi di beberapa kawasan sejak 2005.

Maka, adakah hubungan keluarga Chia dengan Musa Aman telah retak, atau adakah perkara ini menjadi semakin kompleks?

Sebenarnya kerosakan dari pelanggaran perjanjian itu telah mengakibatkan kerugian berjumlah RM84.4 juta, memberikan gambaran sebenar nilai monopoli yang dianugerahkan oleh anak syarikat Yayasan Sabah, Sabah Berjaya Sdn Bhd, kendalian Musa Aman.

Persoalannya, kenapakah Musa Aman, selaku Ketua Eksekutif Yayasan Sabah dalam tahun 1997 dahulu, membelakangkan persaingan pasaran terbuka kepada para kontraktor pengangkutan kayu balak dan menganugerahkannya kepada sebuah keluarga sahaja?

Adakah ianya suatu kebetulan bahawa syarikat ini, KASB, dimiliki oleh bapa Michael Chia, seorang kenalannya yang telah tercatat dalam rekod awam tetapi kini dinafikannya?

Sehingga ditahan kerana disyaki cuba menyeludup wang sogokan dalam 2008, Michael Chia telah menyatakan bahawa dia adalah ‘anak angkat’ kepada Musa Aman dan menjelaskan bahawa dia bertindak selaku orang tengah antara Musa Aman dan taiko-taiko pembalakan yang berlumba-lumba untuk mendapatkan lesen-lesen dari Yayasan Sabah.

Dokumen-dokumen yang dikemukakan dalam kes-kes mahkamah untuk menguji fakta ini, termasuklah surat-surat yang diutuskan oleh peniaga kayu balak Agus Hassan dari syarikat Peluamas Sdn Bhd, menggambarkan Michael Chia sememangnya bertindak sebagai orang tengah dalam rundingan mendapatkan kontrak-kontrak membalak.

Namun kini, Ketua Menteri itu telah menafikan bahawa dia mempunyai kaitan dengan Michael Chia. Ini kerana kami telah mendedahkan beberapa penyata bank yang menunjukkan bahawa Michael Chia pernah mengirimkan bayaran-bayaran kepada anak-anak Musa Aman bagi membiayai pengajian mereka ketika di Australia!

Penafian ini juga turut mengenepikan bahawa Michael Chia dan bapanya telah dianugerahkan banyak lesen pembalakan oleh Musa Aman, menerusi Yayasan Sabah.

Maklumat terkini yang dapat kami kongsikan dengan umum, adalah Musa Aman juga menganugerahkan monopoli pengangkutan kayu balak untuk Yayasan Sabah di kawasan Sandakan di Sabah!

Bagaimana Musa Aman menafikan kaitan perniagaan dengan Michael Chia dan bapanya Chia Nyet Min sedangkan sebenarnya terdapat banyak dokumen yang menjadi bukti perkaitan ini dan juga Yayasan Sabah?

Hidup Musa Aman mulai bangkit setelah dia mencapai kedudukan sebagai Bendahari UMNO Sabah dalam tahun 1992. Ini berlaku sebelum parti itu berjaya merampas negeri itu.

UMNO mengalami kekalahan dalam pilihanraya 1993, tetapi ia telah merampas negeri itu dengan cara menyogok ahli-ahli politik ‘katak’ dari parti yang menang, untuk mendapatkan majoriti dalam Dewan Undangan Negeri. Sejak itulah UMNO mengekalkan kekuasannya di Sabah.

Sebaik sahaja UMNO berjaya merampas Sabah, Musa Aman dilantik sebagai Ketua Eksekutif dalam Yayasan Sabah. Lagi pun Yayasan Sabah merupakan pemegang amanah sumber kayu balak negeri itu. Musa sebenarnya dilantik secara politikal bagi mempastikan UMNO mengawal sektor yang bernilai tinggi itu.

Musa Aman kekal pada jawatannya sehingga dia bergerak ke hadapan dengan memenangi kerusi DUN dan menjawat jawatan sebagai Ketua Menteri – di samping itu dia juga kembali sebagai Pengerusi Lembaga Amanah dalam Yayasan Sabah!

Walaupun tugas dan tanggungjawabnya dalam Yayasan Sabah adalah untuk menjaga hutan-hutan simpan Sabah untuk manfaat generasi akan datang, namun Musa telah menebang hampir kesemua hutan, di samping menyalurkan berjuta-juta ringgit ke dalam akaun-akaun banknya sendiri.

Seterusnya, dengan memberikan monopoli pengangkutan kayu balak kepada syarikat-syarikat Chia, Musa Aman telah mempastikan bahawa manfaat dari aktiviti itu menguntungkan mereka dan juga menghalang orang-orang tempatan mendapatkan pekerjaan dan keuntungan. Sebaliknya semua keuntungan dikaut oleh syarikat-syarikat Chia sahaja.

Para peniaga kayu balak dan pesaing-pesaing mereka mulai mengadu bahawa monopoli itu bermaksud khidmat yang kurang memuaskan, peningkatan kos dan kehilangan pekerjaan bagi orang-orang tempatan. Mengapakah Musa Aman terus menyokong monopoli seperti ini?

Mungkinkah Ketua Menteri itu turut menafikan bahawa sumber maklumat kami mengatakan bahawa keluarga Chia membayarnya RM5 untuk sekubik meter kayu balak yang diangkut di bawah monopoli ini?

Lagipun, ini merupakan insentif sebenar setelah dia menganugerahkan monopoli itu, di mana, jika tidak ianya terlalu sukar untuk diperjelaskan.

Kontrak antara KASB dan Sabah Berjaya Sdn Bhd telah dibaharui beberapa kali.

Namun, setelah tercetusnya sengketa di kalangan peniaga-peniaga kayu balak, terutamanya taiko Andrew Lim, yang mengadu bahawa Yayasan Sabah mengadakan khidmat yang tidak baik, Yayasan Sabah telah membenarkan beberapa kontraktor lain untuk menjalankan kerja-kerja mengangkut itu.

Inilah asas bagi kes mahkamah yang dikemukakan oleh Chia, kerana dia mendakwa bahawa monopoli yang dipersetujuinya itu telah diabaikan dan terjejas.

Kenyataan-kenyataan yang didepositkan oleh Chia di mahkamah (di mana kami turut menyimpan sesalinan darinya) menunjukkan nilai kontrak itu. Dalam aduannya dia menyatakan bagaimana syarikatnya telah dilantik sebagai “agen eksklusif” untuk mengangkut kayu balak yang ditebang oleh Yayasan Sabah dan kemudiannya memperincikan berapa banyaknya kayu balak yang terlibat.

Kadar-kadar yang dibenarkan untuk keluarga Chia ke atas pengangkutan ini telah dimuatkan dalam perjanjian itu, yang mana kami juga menyimpan sesalinan dari dokumen itu.

Setelah syarikat-syarikat Andrew Lim dibenarkan menggunakan kontraktor-kontraktor lain Chia telah mendakwa bahawa kerugian yang dialaminya adalah RM84.4 juta. Jumlah itu telah dimuatkan dalam dokumen mahkamah yang didepositkannya itu.

Pada permukaannya, hubungan Chia dan Musa yang dikelilingi serba kemewahan (yang kini dinafikan oleh Musa) telah menjadi semakin retak. Ahli perniagaan itu kini menyaman organisasi yang diketuai oleh Musa Aman, dan organisasi yang telah menganugerahkan Chia suatu monopoli yang amat berharga itu.

Pada situasi yang lain pula, sumber maklumat kami menyatakan bahawa keluarga Chia “tidak akan menentang Musa”, seseorang yang telah mendatangkan jutaan ringgit kemewahan kepada mereka.

Maka, adakah ini salah satu taktik untuk mendapatkan wang dari Yayasan Sabah?

Lagipun wang itu adalah wang para pembayar cukai, bukannya wang Musa Aman sendiri. Jika keluarga Chia menang pun, mereka akan membawa wang orang awam sebanyak RM84.4 juta – tidak akan menjadi masalah kepada Musa Aman!

Syarikat guaman yang mewakili Yayasan Sabah dalam kes ini adalah Shelley Yap.

Ketua peguam dalam syarikat guaman Shelley Yap adalah Richard Christopher Barnes, seorang lagi individu yang cuba dinafikan kaitannya dengan Musa Aman.

Richard Christopher Barnes, yang ditahan bersama Michael Chia ketika dituduh cuba menyeludup wang sogokan pembalakan Sabah.

Sebagai mana yang telah kami laporkan dulu, pihak penyiasat ICAC Hong Kong mengatakan Barnes menerima wang dari akaun-akaun HSBC dan UBS yang dikendalikan oleh Michael Chia yang kemudianya menyalurkannya ke akaun di Zurich di bawah nama Musa Aman.

Sejak itu, Ketua Menteri itu telah menafikan bahawa dia mempunyai hubungan sama ada dengan Barnes atau Michael Chia. Kenapakah dia tetap menafikan bahawa pada hakikatnya dia pernah dan sedang bekerjasama dengan kedua-dua orang itu bertahun-tahun lamanya menerusi urusan-urusannya dalam Yayasan Sabah?

Cadangan untuk menganugerahkan lesen-lesen pengakutan yang berasingan kepada syarikat-syarikat lain diberikan kepada Yayasan Sabah adalah cetusan idea Barnes. Dia mengatakan cara itu akan melanggari monopoli yang dianugerahkan kepada KASB dan kini mereka berhak mengemukakan saman itu.

Inilah yang membelengu Yayasan Sabah, saman RM84.4 juta yang telah difailkan dalam mahkamah di Sandakan!



About dusunbukit

You've got your truth, I've got my truth. We can't be both wrong. The real challenge is to discern the difference. Pardon me if I offend you, but I'm going to put my words bluntly. So, lets rumble..
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