PUTRAJAYA (Sept 2): The Court of Appeal (COA) today dismissed the prosecution's appeal to forfeit RM192 million from central Umno, RM300,000 from Wanita MCA and RM1.05 million from Umno Kedah, which were all said to have received monies from former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak in relation to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
The three-member bench also dismissed the prosecution's appeal to forfeit from business entities such as Habib Jewels Sdn Bhd (RM100,000), K&Z Enterprise Sdn Bhd (RM138,359.60), Perano Sdn Bhd (RM337,634.78), Binsabi Sdn Bhd (RM827,25) and Hatatex Trading (RM111,590).
Justice Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail, who was the second member of the bench led by Justice Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, and third judge Justice Datuk Abu Bakar Jais ruled that there were no errors in the Kuala Lumpur High Court decision for the appellate court to disturb and intervene in the matter.
Justice Hadhariah ruled that the forfeiture action on the political parties did not satisfy the requirements under Section 56 of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 with regard to forfeiture of property when there is no prosecution.
She added that there were "no good reasons to disturb the finding of facts that the present forfeiture the prosecution sought is not from the proceeds of unlawful activity".
“The money had all been used up and the business entities had no knowledge that the monies came from unlawful activity of Najib. It is most unfair for the court to allow the appeal to the services or items sold.
“We find the High Court judge did not commit any error in law. We affirm the order of the High Court,” she said.
However, the appellate bench allowed the appeal by Umno Pahang, which had RM2.48 million seized by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) following the High Court order.
“We find that the High Court judge erred and disregarded the facts that the money had been spent and no longer available. The present amount in the account is lawful. We allow the appellant's (Umno Pahang) appeal and set aside the High Court order,” Justice Hadhariah said.
The forfeiture action was initiated by the MACC in 2019 on the entities, which were part of over 40 individuals and entities named as recipients of monies from Najib.
The commission sought to seize RM270 million from these parties following its investigations over the illegal money trail that Najib used from 1MDB to pay them.
Of the RM270 million, a sum of RM212 million alone was from central Umno before it was reduced to RM192 million.
The High Court last year mostly dismissed the prosecution's forfeiture action on these individuals and entities. Submissions in the prosecution's appeal were heard in stages, most recently on July 28, before arriving at today's decision.
The prosecution today was represented by Deputy Public Prosecutors (DPPs) Muhammad Saifuddin Hashim Musaimi, Kamal Bahrin Omar and Nik Haslinie Hashim.
Datuk Hariharan Tara Singh and Syazwani Mohd Zawawi appeared for central Umno, while Datuk Ben Chan appeared for Wanita MCA, G Nadaraja appeared for Umno Kedah and four others, and Khoo Guan Huat appeared for Habib Jewels.
The others were Thevini Nayagam, who appeared for Perano and K&Z Enterprise; Mohd Khalil Tajudin and Mohd Hasif Hassan, who appeared for Binsabi; Mohd Shukri Ahmad Mansor, who appeared for Hatatex; and Datuk Syed Azmal Amir Syed Abu Bakar, who appeared for Umno Pahang.