‘No evidence from MACC that Najib instructed 1MDB to give money to Umno’

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on December 6, 2019.
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KUALA LUMPUR: Umno objected in High Court yesterday to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) attempt to forfeit RM212 million from the party’s accounts, saying the graft body had not produced sufficient evidence to show that it was illegal money.

Datuk Hariharan Tara Singh, the lawyer acting for Umno, also argued that the money claimed by the MACC had already been use up.

“The MACC had failed to show its right to seize the money as it had not shown the predicate offence that the money that it claimed was paid by former party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak came from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB),” Hariharan said.

Hariharan said there was no evidence shown that Najib gave verbal instructions to 1MDB to give the money to Umno headquarters. The requirement for such evidence was decided in the Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd case, he said.

“Hence we say that it does not show that the money obtained by Umno is through illegal means from 1MDB on the balance of probabilities,” he added.

“Furthermore, Najib as the former party president is entitled to seek funds for the party from any source. They (the MACC ) have to justify that the money originated from 1MDB or illegally,” he said.

In civil cases, the case is decided on a balance of probabilities unlike in criminal cases where the burden is beyond reasonable doubt.

Hariharan said their case is that the money was received from Najib as Umno president and that one cannot question how it was raised by the then president as he can source it from donations.

The lawyer admitted that the party received some RM245 million since 2013 from Najib and that the money was fully utilised in 2014.

What the party has in its accounts just before the May 9, 2018 general elections, he added, was from other donations and not from the money that is claimed by MACC.

Hence, he said it was not proper for the government to seize the money.

Hariharan also referred to the recent case involving MACC and the Sabah-based Liberal Democratic Party where the authourities sought RM509,000 but in the end settled for slightly more than RM9,000.

“This follows as in that case in the High Court the court accepted the RM500,000 sought had been used up,” he said.

Although that case may not bind this court, Hariharan said the court can take notice of this development.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Allan Suman Pillai claimed that Hariharan was going overboard from the issue at hand.

“What is proven is that Najib had issued the cheques to Umno in US dollars. This is from illicit money,” he said.

Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan asked both sides to provide further submissions on the issue raised by Hariharan on Jan 3.

The judge yesterday also heard MACC’s forfeiture claims against Sabah Umno, Wanita MCA, Perano Sdn Bhd and Binsabi Sdn Bhd, and directed the parties involved to make similar submissions by Jan 3.