A Malaysian state government is probing investigators’ claims that up to 60 percent of infrastructure funds possibly amounting to billions of dollars have been siphoned off, a report said Sunday.

Zakaria Jaffar

Zakaria Jaffar

The deputy chief minister of Sarawak state on the resource-rich island of Borneo, George Chan, said his government would look into the allegation made by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

“The state government is investigating. We also want the MACC to give us a full and detailed briefing on these claims,” he told the Star newspaper, which said the total lost could run to “billions”.

“If indeed funds from the government meant for projects for the rakyat (people) and the poor had been misappropriated, the state government wants action taken,” he was quoted as saying by the English-language paper.

MACC deputy chief commissioner Zakaria Jaffar said Wednesday that state graft-busters had unearthed embezzlement after they investigated road, housing and building projects completed between 2002 and 2008.

The Sarawak MACC found that “only about 40 percent of the allocations were spent while the remaining 60 percent is ‘bocor’ (leaked out)”, he said, according to the English-language Borneo Post.

Zakaria said some projects were poorly completed but others did not even materialise although they were paid for in full.

“When we talk about development projects in the state, there are many cases of fake claims, whether it involves the (state) officers or the contractors,” he added.

Zakaria did not disclose the location or number of projects investigated. The MACC could not be reached for comment Sunday. — AFP