1MDB forfeiture appeals hearing cut short due to emergency

1MDB forfeiture appeals hearing cut short due to emergency
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PUTRAJAYA (March 18): The Court of Appeal today adjourned the hearing of multiple forfeiture appeals by the prosecution from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in relation to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) funds earlier than expected, due to an emergency.

The three-member bench led by Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil had to stop proceedings at 12.30pm after a short break and informed parties that there was an emergency, hence the hearing had to be postponed to another date.

“We have to adjourn the hearing due to an unforeseen emergency to another date. Court is adjourned,” he said.

The other members on the bench were Justices Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail and Datuk Abu Bakar Jais.

It is understood that a member of the bench has an emergency concerning a relative. Following this, the court has fixed May 27 for continued hearing.

Earlier, the bench heard appeals from Umno Pahang against the High Court’s decision to allow the prosecution to forfeit RM3,479,300.18 from the Malay nationalist party last year.

It also heard submissions from Habib Jewels Sdn Bhd, Perano Sdn Bhd and K&Z Enterprise Sdn Bhd.

The prosecution is seeking to seize RM100,000 from Habib Jewels, RM337,634.78 from Perano and RM138,359.60 from K&Z Enterprise.

Besides this, the prosecution is also appealing to seize RM192.2 million from central Umno, Wanita MCA (RM300,000), Binsabi Sdn Bhd (RM827,250), Hatatex Trading (RM111,590) and Kedah Umno (RM1.05 million).

They are among the 80 entities and individuals whom the prosecution from the MACC has been seeking RM270 million from since July 2019. The funds allegedly originate from 1MDB and were given to them by former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Najib had already been convicted of all seven counts in relation to abuse of power with regards to RM4 billion of Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) funds in 2011 and 2012 loaned to 1MDB’s subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd, along with three counts of criminal breach of trust and another three charges of money laundering in relation to RM42 million of the SRC funds.

He is also facing 25 charges in relation to 1MDB.

Investigating officer failed to mention predicate offence, argues Umno Pahang lawyer

Umno Pahang's counsel Datuk Syed Azimal Syed Abu Bakar argued that the High Court was wrong to allow the forfeiture as the MACC’s investigating officer (IO) had failed to mention the predicate offence in her affidavit, which led to the monies being seized.

As such, the court may have relied on hearsay evidence in allowing the forfeiture, he added.

He also said the IO’s statement was made without any proof that the transfer of money took place, as well as the source of the money which is allegedly illegally obtained from the US$300 million that 1MDB had pumped into 1MDB-PetroSaudi Ltd.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Saifuddin Hashim Musaimi countered by saying the purpose of forfeiture in money laundering cases was not to let the parties enjoy the illegal proceeds obtained by cheating others.

“[Even if] the person had run away or has already passed away or any further circumstances, the prosecution would still like to forfeit the said property from the illegal gains,” he said.

Meanwhile, counsel Khoo Guan Huat for Habib Jewels told the court that the company cannot be faulted for not knowing the amount paid for Najib's purchase of jewellery are purportedly from illegal means.

He said there is no doubt that the purchase of jewellery for RM100,000 was made and paid by Najib, and that such purchases to that amount are quite common.

Khoo further told the court that in the Federal Court judgement for Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd, forfeiture cannot be done due to the co-mingling of the funds.

“Certainly, the RM100,000 paid is already mixed with other monies in the company accounts and possibly it had already been used to make purchases or other things,” he said, adding certainly their client cannot be faulted for that.

Meanwhile, Thevini Nayagam for Perano and K&Z Enterprise said she adopted Khoo's submissions and added that in the case of K&Z Enterprise, the prosecution and the MACC should also show where the allegedly illegally-sourced funds originated from.

As she made her submissions, Justice Abdul Karim called for a short break, then announced the postponement of the cases following the emergency.

The appeals are divided into several sessions for companies and political parties that had allegedly received the funds.

Lam Jian Wyn