Court allows govt to take possession of foundation’s funds


KUALA LUMPUR: The Government has taken possession of RM407,011.46 in the bank account of Yayasan Penyelidikan Transformasi, which were frozen in connection with efforts to recover money misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

High Court judge Muhammad Jamil Hussin allowed the forfeiture of funds to the government after Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) deputy public prosecutor Farah Yasmin Salleh told the court yesterday that the research foundation, as the respondent in the case, had agreed to the forfeiture in a letter dated July 9.

Board of trustees member Zulkifli Jaafar, who represented the respondent, said they did not oppose the forfeiture.

The government’s forfeiture application was made under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act (AMLATFPUA).

Earlier this year, MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya announced that a civil forfeiture suit had been filed against 41 respondents in a bid to recover about RM270mil in funds, allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB.

In a separate case, another High Court here dismissed the application to forfeit a sum of RM1.15mil from Kedah Umno liaison committee and Habib Jewels Sdn Bhd, also allegedly related to 1MDB.

They were said to have received the money from former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, amounting to RM1.05mil and RM100,000, respectively.

Judge Mohd Nazlan Ghazali dismissed the application by the prosecution, which was represented by DPP Allan Suman Pillai and DPP Abdul Rashid Sulaiman of the MACC, as they had failed to prove its civil forfeiture cases against the two entities.

“For Kedah Umno, it should be highlighted that the six cheques issued totalled RM15mil and paid over a period of between 2012 and 2013.

“The forfeiture application now relates to the balance standing to the credit of the current account of the respondent, which was frozen and later seized on June 25,2018, which is the said amount of RM1,054,019.22.

“Affidavit evidence, however, shows that out of the six cheques, the last cheque payment of RM1mil was made in June 2013.

“The end balance as of June 30,2013 was only about RM1.4mil, ” said Justice Mohd Nazlan in his judgment.

He said by then, the bulk of the RM15mil had left the account and the balance had, over time, dropped to RM58,000 at the opening balance on Jan 1,2017.

“In the first four months of 2018, which was just before the 14th General Election, more than RM27mil was deposited into the respondent’s account via 44 transactions, and during the same period, some RM26mil was paid out in 203 transactions.

“In my view, it cannot be said that the sum of slightly more than RM1mil, now remaining in the account and intended to be forfeited by the public prosecutor, constitutes part of the RM15mil paid by Najib, a few years ago.

“This given the very high number of deposits and withdrawals, and taking into consideration the balance sum recorded during the period after the deposit of the RM15mil in 2013 and the seizure of the account last year, ” he said, adding that on a balance of probability, it could not be said that the sum in the account now sought to be forfeited, was an evidence or subject matter relating to an offence under Section 4 of AMLATFPUA or that it was proceeds of an unlawful activity.

For the case of Habib Jewels, Justice Mohd Nazlan said the monies received for the purchase of jewellery was done in “good faith” in the ordinary course of business.

“The public prosecutor did not dispute this sale transaction. There is also no allegation of collusion or any form of wrongdoing against the respondent.

“I am also satisfied that there was no reason for the respondent to believe that the payment by Najib for the jewellery was proceeds of unlawful activity.

“The transactions were in 2014, which was prior to the allegations on the role of Najib concerning 1MDB being made public in the mid of 2015, ” he ruled. — Bernama

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