PUTRAJAYA (Sept 3): The Court of Appeal has made a landmark order for corporate lawyer Datuk E Sreesanthan's appeal to go directly to the Federal Court.
Sreesanthan is appealing charges of insider trading and also seeking a declaration that some sections of the Securities Commission Act (SCA) 1993 are against the Federal Constitution.
The High Court, in ruling against him in November last year, said the applications lacked merit. He is appealing this decision.
The matter came up at the appeals court last week. Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Raus Sharif, who presided over the matter, said however that it was best for the Federal Court to decide on matters concerning constitutional questions.
Sreesanthan's lead counsel, Datuk Cyrus Das, said he had no issues with the judge’s view, and the matter was then adjourned to today to allow Deputy Public Prosecutor Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud to refer to his superiors for further instructions.
Today, Awang said the Attorney-General's Chambers will support the transmission of the questions of law to the Federal Court.
Speaking to The Edge, he said two matters will be decided at the Federal Court - the questions of law and also Sreesanthan's appeal proper.
A new date for case management will be set later, he said..
Awang said today’s order was indeed a landmark order as it concerns questions of law and is one of the first non-ISA (Internal Security Act) matters to "by-pass" the Court of Appeal.
"It will open the floodgates” for other matters to be brought straight to the nation’s highest court, he added.
Sreesanthan, who has served as the lawyer in in many of the country’s major corporate exercises, was charged by the Securities Commissions in July 2012 on seven counts of insider trading involving Sime Darby, UEM, VADS and Maxis shares.
On the first three charges, Sreesanthan is alleged to have acquired 75,000 units of Sime Darby Berhad shares while in possession of insider information on the proposed acquisition of several real estate and plantation companies by Synergy Drive Sdn Bhd between Oct 9 and Nov 12, 2006.
On the fourth and fifth charges, he is accused of insider information involving 250,000 units of Maxis Communication Bhd shares on the proposed conditional take-over by Binariang GSM Sdn Bhd to acquire all the voting shares in Maxis and Maxis' proposed privatisation between April 25 and 27, 2007.
On the last two charges, he is accused of buying 200,000 units of UEM World Berhad shares and 100,000 units of VADS Berhad shares while in possession of insider information on Feb 13 and Sept 18, 2008, respectively.
Under the Securities Industry Act 1983 and Capital Market and Services Act 2007, he faces a minimum fine of RM1 million and up to 10 years' jail if found guilty.
He is contesting the charges on several questions of constitution. In December 2012, his application at the High Court to ask whether some sections of the SCA 1993 were against the Federal Constitution was allowed.
Among the constitutional questions raised by him at the appeals court was whether Section 128 allows the SC investigating officers to enter and search premises, search the person, seize any documents and even detain the person for up to 24 hours. He contended that such powers were against just and fair criminal procedure and equal protection of the law.
Another question put forth to be determined by the courts was whether Section 134(5) of the SCA in imposing a fine up to RM1 million or an imprisonment of up to five years, or both, against any person under investigation simply for refusing to answer questions by the SC investigating officer is a denial of fundamental principal of any accused person.