Ex-arbitration director sues former AG, ex-MACC chief commissioner, govt

Datuk Prof Dr N Sundra Rajoo (Photo by Mohd Izwan/The Edge)

Datuk Prof Dr N Sundra Rajoo (Photo by Mohd Izwan/The Edge)

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KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 15): Former Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC) director Datuk Prof Dr N Sundra Rajoo has filed a suit against former attorney general Tan Sri Tommy Thomas, former Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Datuk Seri Mohd Shukri Abdull, the government and 10 others for misfeasance in public office, malicious prosecution and false imprisonment.

The suit was filed on Friday at the High Court after Sundra Rajoo last month sent a letter of demand against them, seeking RM10 million and an apology.

The other 10 officers are from the MACC and the Attorney General's Chambers.

Sundra Rajoo filed the suit through the firm of Messrs Cheok, Ng, Lee Law Chambers.

Case management of the matter has been fixed for Nov 12.

The former AIAC director is seeking special damages of RM3.75 million, general, aggravated damages and costs.

The former director was initially slapped with three criminal breach of trust charges in March 2019, involving AIAC's funds amounting to RM1.01 million.

The charges were dropped after the High Court and the Federal Court in June this year ruled that as AIAC director, Sundra Rajoo enjoyed immunity from criminal proceedings and that the AG did not have "absolute and unfettered discretion under Article 145(3) to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for criminal offences".

In Sundra Rajoo's statement of claim sighted by theedgemarkets.com, he said that besides being a qualified lawyer and arbitrator, he is also a licensed architect and town planner, and a well-known international and domestic alternative dispute resolution practitioner who was a director of AIAC from 2010 to 2018.

He is also the founding president of the Asian Institute of Alternative Dispute Resolution for 2018 to 2022.

Sundra Rajoo said as the AIAC director, he enjoyed immunity as stipulated under the International Organisations (Privileges and Immunities) Act 1982.

He alleged that he was wrongfully arrested by the MACC on Nov 20, 2018 and was forced to resign on Tommy's instructions and led to the appointment of the late Vinayak Pradhan to replace him.

Sundra Rajoo further claimed continued harassment and intimidation of him and his family in 2019, leading to the criminal charges made against him.

Defendants should have known he had immunity

He claimed that the defendants should have known of his immunity status at all material times; however, he had been subjected to false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, misfeasance of public office, and breaches of his constitutional rights under Article 5 (Liberty of a Person) and Article 8 (Equality) and conspiracy to injure.

Sundra Rajoo claimed that the persecution against him began with a poison pen letter that was copied to several people including Thomas that led a raid on AIAC, while he was in Zurich, Switzerland.

He alleged that while investigations into him by the MACC began and the agency tried to have him remanded, Thomas issued a media release to announce Vinayak's appointment with immediate effect.

"The plaintiff contends that the issuance of the media release revealed a concerted effort on the part of Tan Sri Tommy to have the plaintiff replaced as the director of AIAC. It was announced almost immediately after the forced resignation whilst the remand application hearing was going on," he said in the statement.

"The media release was issued by the AG and not the minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of legal affairs who was in the ordinary course responsible for the AIAC," he added.

The former AIAC director further contended that he was also prohibited from going to the AIAC office and claimed that it was under the instruction of Thomas, who did not have the power to do so.

While he was in Kedah attending a religious ceremony on March 22, 2019, Sundra Rajoo said on that same day Thomas signed a preferred charge against him for alleged wrongful use of AIAC monies for the purchase of copies of a book entitled "Law, Practice and Procedure of Arbitration", when in fact the then AG was aware that he had filed a judicial review application.

He further claimed that his house in Bukit Damansara was surrounded that same night and the early morning the next day and he was subsequently charged on March 25, 2019.

The court findings that led to his acquittal found that Sundra Rajoo did not personally benefit in any way regarding the subject of the three charges.

"This was not rebutted by the respondents in the judicial review application that was filed," he added.

As a result of this, Sundra Rajoo claimed that the harrowing episode of being wrongfully arrested had damaged his reputation for which he is made the subject of domestic and international ridicule and odium by reason of his arrest.

He added that he had lost his liberty for 21 hours, which was a breach of his constitutional rights to personal liberty as enshrined under the Federal Constitution.

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Ex-arbitration centre director demands RM10m from former AG and MACC over arrest and prosecution

Lam Jian Wyn