Court Of Appeal rules in favour of SC in insider trading case

KUALA LUMPUR: The Court of Appeal has unanimously allowed the Securities Commission’s (SC) appeal and set aside a 2021 High Court decision which had acquitted former executive deputy chairman of Malaysian Merchant Marine Bhd (MMM) Datuk Ramesh Rajaratnam for insider trading.

Justices Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera, Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim, and Datuk Wong Kian Kheong found that the High Court had erred in acquitting Ramesh without considering the merits of the case, SC said in a statement.

In delivering the Court of Appeal’s broad grounds, Wong held that the appellate court has a judicial duty, after trial and on appeal, to consider the merits of the appeal. This means the appellate court has to sieve through the appeal records, consider the written submissions, and listen to the oral submissions before making a just decision on the appeal.

The Court of Appeal accordingly set aside the High Court’s decision in acquitting Ramesh on the first charge and reinstated the earlier conviction and sentence imposed by the Sessions Court. It further directed that the case be remitted to the High Court and to be heard on the merits before another High Court judge.

The Court of Appeal also maintained the same bail conditions as was earlier imposed on Ramesh by the Sessions Court, namely a bail sum of RM200,000 with one surety and the surrender of his passport to the court.

Ramesh was charged at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court on April 29, 2015 with three counts of insider trading under s.188(2)(a) of the Capital Markets and Services Act 2007 (CMSA).

On Sept 11, 2019, after a full trial, the Sessions Court convicted Ramesh on all three charges. He was sentenced to five years imprisonment and a fine of RM3mil (in default 3 years imprisonment) for each charge. The imprisonment terms were ordered to run concurrently.

On May 20, 2021, the High Court allowed Ramesh’s appeal and set aside the conviction and sentence on all three charges.

During the SC’s appeal at the Court of Appeal, the SC with the public prosecutor’s consent decided not to pursue the appeal in respect of the second and third charges.

Ramesh subsequently filed an appeal against his conviction and sentence to the High Court.

Insider trading carries a punishment of an imprisonment term not exceeding 10 years and a fine of not less than RM1mil.

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