Musa Aman, 67, who is a former leader of a resource-rich eastern Malaysian state has been charged for receiving bribes for the award of timber concessions amid a widening crackdown on abuse by former officials.
He was chief minister of Sabah state on Borneo island since 2003 until the ouster of scandal-tainted Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government in May’s general election.
Musa was detained by the anti-graft agency before being taken to court. He is the latest in the list of high-ranking officials to be prosecuted.
He pleaded not guilty to 35 counts of corruption for receiving a total amount of $63.3 million in Hong Kong and Singapore, through proxies between the year of 2004-2008 in exchange of timber contracts. He was later released on bail though he faces up to 20 years in jail for each offence.
His lawyer could not be reached for comment as all attempts to reach him fell through.
Sabah and neighbouring Sarawak on Borneo are very rich in natural resources such as oil, gas and timber but are also among the poorest states in Malaysia.
Najib, his wife, his former deputy and two other ex-senior government officials were earlier charged with corruption and the government has warned that more may be hauled to court. Najib, on his part, has accused the new government of seeking political vengeance.