KUALA LUMPUR (April 19): The High Court here has today agreed to give a three-month notice for third parties who want to contest the forfeiture action of RM48 million by the government on Tan Sri Larry Low Hock Peng, the father of Low Taek Jho. Taek Jho is also known as Jho Low.
The amount follows the freeze imposed by the authorities on several of Hock Peng's accounts with the intention to forfeit it as the government claims the amount gained is a result of money laundering activities.
Justice Mohd Zaini Mazlan fixed July 19 for hearing from the contending third parties to the forfeiture claim by the government.
"The court recognises the need for a notice to be gazetted for it to be made known if there are any conflicting claims can be made before the court can consider the forfeiture.
"The court grants order in terms," the judge said.
With this, the notice to gazette would be made several days or weeks before the hearing.
Earlier, the prosecution led by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Aaron Chelliah said the government had filed a notice of motion for the forfeiture action and requested that the notice be gazetted.
Chelliah said the prosecution had tried to serve the cause papers to Hock Peng since the application was made last month.
The DPP said the authorities do not know Hock Peng's whereabouts, as affirmed by investigating officer Supt Foo Wei Min's affidavit, which shows that Hock Peng is not in Malaysia.
"We (the police) have also filed charges against Hock Peng and hence a warrant (of arrest) had been issued. We have sought assistance from Interpol to find Hock Peng but so far it has been unsuccessful.
"Hence, we apply to the court to dispense the service of the cause papers," Chelliah said. Zaini agreed and is satisfied with the move to dispense the requirement to serve the papers.
Hock Peng is not represented in today's proceedings.
The Edge Financial Daily reported on March 29, that the government had filed a civil forfeiture action to freeze Hock Peng's seven accounts with the view to forfeit it as it is believed to be sourced from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
The order sought by the prosecutors and allowed by the court today is for a Notice of Gazette under Section 61(2) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities 2001, inviting all third parties claiming to have an interest in the monies held in Hock Peng's accounts to contest the forfeiture.
Now court documents showed that the accounts frozen are:
- a sum of RM20.78 million in a current account (214138001511691) at RHB Bank Bhd Kuala Lumpur City Centre branch that was seized on Dec 11, last year.
- RM300,000 in a fixed deposit account (31413800627615) RHB Bank, KLCC, seized on Dec 11, last year.
- RM500,000 in a fixed deposit account (31413800627577) held in RHB Bank, KLCC on Dec 11, last year.
- a sum of RM20 million in a fixed deposit account (3641330034922) held at RHB Bank KLCC on Dec 11, last year.
- RM6.613 million in a fixed deposit account held at Malayan Banking Bhd, at the Plaza MWE branch in Penang
- RM462,618.38 at the current account (557045400074) in Malayan Banking, Plaza MWE, Penang
- RM318,021.95 in current account (557045200412) in Malayan Banking, Plaza MWE, Penang.
If there is no challenge on July 19, the amount could be forfeited by the government pursuant to Section 56(2) of the same Act.
It was reported on March 30, that Jho Low, through a spokesman from his legal team, said the latest move by the government to freeze his father's seven bank accounts shows that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's "regime" is harassing his opponents.
"After the government was attempting to suddenly summarily seize our family home of 20 years, which the many governments in over a decade have not, the Mahathir regime is now seeking to freeze bank accounts purportedly linked to his (Jho Low's) father.
"(This) clearly demonstrate the regime's persistent strategy of harassment and political persecution against their perceived opponents by any means necessary.
"Once again, the Mahathir regime has ignored the rule of law, and in a clear abuse of power is seeking to exploit the AG's office and police force to attack opponents and do Mahathir regime's personal bidding," the spokesperson said in a statement.