SIBU, March 12: A 60-year-old man pleaded not guilty at the Magistrate’s Court here today to five counts of fraud involving a non-existent supervisor and lumberjack jobs in Liberia.
The accused made the plea after the charges were read to him before magistrate Stella Augustine Druce.
According to the first four charges, the accused had allegedly scammed Gawan Masin, 41, Aji Surau, 39, Untol Luyang, 58, and Enyang Ato, 66, in Kapit sometime in December last year by inducing and offering them non-existent jobs at Malaysia Liberia Forestry Corporation in Liberia.
For the fifth charge, the accused allegedly cheated Tie Siew Heng in Sibu sometime in October last year by fraudulently induced the latter to bear expenses, including airfares, lodging and food, for Gawan, Aji, Untol, Enyang, Salim Tahir and Suhaili Gani.
Tie was also asked to purchase chain and ripping saws and also give advanced payment to Gawan, Aji, Untol, Salim, Suhaili and Enyang as his share being a business partner of Malaysian Liberia Forestry Corporation upon arrival in Liberia.
All offences were framed under Section 415(b) and punishable under Section 417 of the Penal Code, carrying an imprisonment term of not more than five years or with fine or both.
According to the brief facts of the case, Gawan was contacted through the WeChat application by the accused, who asked if he was interested to work as a supervisor in Liberia.
Upon accepting the offer, Gawan was promised to be issued work permits, a monthly salary of RM8,000, return air tickets and free meals, accommodation and transportation while in Liberia.
On Jan 3 this year, Gawan and the rest of the group departed for Liberia, and upon arrival, they were brought to an empty house as part of the provisions provided.
The victims were then left stranded in Liberia from Jan 5 until March 3 after they were abandoned by Tie.
On Feb 28, a representative from the Malaysian Embassy approached the victims, and they were successfully brought back to Malaysia on March 3.
The police arrested the accused on March 3 at about 10am in Sibu.
Investigations carried out by the police found that the accused had allegedly cheated Gawan, Aji, Untol, Salim, Suhaili and Enyang into believing and accepting job offers in Liberia and Tie of RM77,499.88 being the expenses incurred for the preparation and sending the six victims to Liberia as a business partner.
The prosecution was led by Inspector Badrul Iskandar Selamat, while the accused was represented by Boston Ho.
In his request for bail, Ho asked that the bail bond not to be excessive as the accused and his family had been cooperating since the day he was arrested.
Ho also said the accused’s children, all of whom are holding steady jobs in Sibu, also fit the prosecution officer’s requirement, and they were in court today to bail him.
Stella allowed the accused to be released on cash bail of RM2,500 in the form of a fixed deposit for each charge with two local sureties that have permanent addresses and income. The accused’s passport was also impounded by the court.
The court also set March 21 for further mention, which will be held at Kapit Magistrate’s Court. — DayakDaily