KUALA LUMPUR: Umno, Wanita MCA and two others were allowed to keep their monies amounting to more than RM194mil after the High Court here dismissed forfeiture applications by the government seeking to retrieve the money, said to be linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
High Court judge Justice Mohamed Zaini Mazlan said he had perused each of the respondents’ bank statements for the relevant period as stated in the forfeiture suits.
In his decision relating to Umno, Justice Zaini said the prosecution alleged that the monies in Umno’s account were proceeds of unlawful activities committed by former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who was the party president at that time.
A freeze order was subsequently issued on the respondent’s account on Sept 21,2018.
“I am, however, predisposed at this point in time to confine myself to the findings on whether the amount in the respondent’s bank account as of May 13,2019 relates to the monies deposited by Najib.
“The respondent contended the money in its account as of May 13,2019 was not from the monies deposited by Najib.
“It contended that the monies deposited by Najib had long been spent and it had over a period of time saved monies from other sources, ” he said here yesterday.
Umno had contended that the monies it received from Najib had already been spent on operations for the general election and other activities.
“I’m of the view that the amount of the respondent’s bank account currently remaining could not be said to be from or part of the amount contributed by Najib.
“The withdrawals from the respondent’s bank account from the time the money was deposited justify the respondent’s contention that the monies had long been spent, ” he said.
The judge also made similar findings regarding the suits against Wanita MCA and two other entities – Binsabi Sdn Bhd, a company supplying tents, and Perano Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of textile giant Jakel Trading that sells hijab.
Justice Zaini said there was nothing left from Najib’s monies in the respondents’ accounts to be forfeited even if it was to be assumed that the monies received were illegitimate proceeds.
“The prosecution’s application is therefore dismissed, ” he said.
The government had sought to retrieve RM192,965,413.61 from Umno; RM300,000 from Wanita MCA; RM827,250 from Binsabi; and RM337,634.78 from Perano.
Justice Zaini then ordered for the accounts to be released immediately.
DPP Mahadi Abdul Jumaat, however, informed the court that the prosecution would be filing an appeal against the decision next week.
“We believe there will be an important precedent to be considered at the appeal level.
“We are concerned that if the accounts are unfrozen, it would be hard for us to seize the money in case we win the appeal, ” he said in applying for a stay of order.
Justice Zaini then gave an interim order for the freezing of accounts to remain until the disposal of the stay application.
He also ordered the prosecution to file its appeal by next Friday.
On June 21 last year, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission filed civil forfeiture applications against 41 individuals and entities, including Umno, to recover RM270mil allegedly from 1MDB.
It was alleged that the funds were transferred to the accounts of the 41 individuals from Najib’s personal bank account.