KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 17): Businessman Datuk Tan Eng Boon was fined RM1.5 million by the High Court here after he pleaded guilty to a charge for abetting the former Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor in receiving a RM1 million bribe.
If Tan fails to pay the fine by tomorrow, he would have to serve a default sentence of one year in prison, High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali ruled.
The High Court was supposed to hear Tan's application to postpone the hearing of his case, which is to be heard jointly with Tengku Adnan's corruption case today.
The property developer, however, made a sudden change by pleading guilty to the alternative charge prior to the trial which is scheduled to commence in two days.
For the alternative charge made under Section 165 of the Penal Code, Tan can be sentenced to a maximum of two years in jail or a fine or both, if convicted.
Justice Mohd Nazlan made the ruling after considering both parties' submission, and taking into account all the relevant considerations, including the public interest and interest of the accused person in imposing the sentence.
When delivering the decision, Justice Mohd Nazlan said as Tan has pleaded guilty before the commencement of the trial to the alternative charge under Section 165 of the Penal Code read together with Section 109 of the same Code, this has saved much judicial time and costs associated with a long corruption trial.
The High Court also took into account that this was Tan's first conviction.
Justice Mohd Nazlan, however, stressed that it cannot be emphasised enough that corruption is a very serious crime as it undermines the social and economic development of the country and adversely affects the fabric of society.
"In view of the foregoing, and after having taken into account the sentencing trend in respect of the same offence under Section 165, and in seeking to achieve a sentence that as closely as possible reflect the key objectives of sentencing policy; that are of prevention and deterrence, but also of retribution and reformation, and especially taking into consideration the agreement reached by the parties in the plea bargaining process which precede the guilty plea.
"In my judgment, a sentence which is appropriate and proportionate to the plea of guilty under Section 165 read together with Section 109 of the Penal Code made by the accused considering the particular circumstances of the case is a fine of RM1.5 million in default of which one year imprisonment, payment of which to be paid by tomorrow," Justice Mohd Nazlan ruled.
Meanwhile, deputy public prosecutor Julia Ibrahim told reporters that the accused, who will also be the most important witness in Tengku Adnan's corruption case, had indicated to the High Court last Friday (Sept 13) that he decided to change his plea.
She said Tan was prepared to plead guilty to the alternative charge provided he would only be fined.
The prosecution and Tan's lawyer Faisal Moideen went through the plea bargain process pursuant to Section 172C of the Criminal Procedure Code earlier today, where the media were not allowed to cover the proceedings.
On Nov 15 last year, Tan, 70, who is a director of a property development company, pleaded not guilty to a charge of giving a bribe to Tengku Adnan, 68, by depositing a RM1 million Public Bank cheque belonging to Pekan Nenas Industries Sdn Bhd into Tengku Adnan's CIMB Bank account.
It was allegedly a reward for Tengku Adnan for approving an application by Nucleus Properties Sdn Bhd (now known as Paragon City Development Sdn Bhd) to increase the plot ratio relating to the development of Lot 228, Jalan Semarak, here.
The offence was allegedly committed at CIMB Bank Bhd, Putra World Trade Centre, Jalan Tun Ismail on Dec 27, 2013.
The charge, under Section 16(b)(A) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act, provides for imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the amount of the gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, if found guilty.
Tan also faces an alternative charge, made under Section 165 of the Penal Code and punishable under Section 109 of the same law, for abetting Tengku Adnan in committing the offence.
On Nov 15 last year, Tengku Adnan pleaded not guilty to a charge of corruptly receiving RM1 million from Tan to approve an application by a company to increase the plot ratio of a development at Jalan Semarak here.
Justice Mohd Nazlan granted the prosecution's request to consolidate Tengku Adnan and Tan's cases in one trial on Aug 9.