PETALING JAYA: Former attorney general Tan Sri Tommy Thomas has given his version on Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) remarks that implicated him in a decision to discharge the stepson of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak from five money-laundering charges.
In a statement yesterday, Thomas said he felt compelled to speak up as he claimed his name had been wrongly dragged into the Riza Abdul Aziz case in a May 14 MACC press statement that said Riza’s discharge not amounting to an acquittal was a decision agreed to by Thomas.
“Riza was charged with five counts of money laundering before the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court on July 5, 2019. I made the decision to charge him.
“The only other decision I took in the case against Riza was to appoint Gopal Sri Ram to lead the prosecution.
“Thereafter I left the day-to-day handling of the case to him and the deputy public prosecutor from the Attorney General’s Chambers assisting Sri Ram,” he said.
Thomas added that the solicitors acting for Riza submitted written representations seeking a review of the criminal charges proffered against their client.
“Written representations are received by the Attorney General’s Chambers on a daily basis from lawyers acting for accused facing criminal trials and appeals. Hence, there was nothing sinister about the sending of representations by Riza’s solicitors.
“Whether I personally acted in agreeing to their request for a discharge is an altogether separate issue. I did not. It is as plain and simple as that,” he said, adding that he did not receive any advice from Sri Ram pertaining to the matter up to day he resigned on Feb 28.
“Thus, I did not decide on the representations of Riza prior to my resignation,” Thomas said, adding that on March 12, the DPP applied for a new date for the case to allow the AGC to make a decision on the representation submitted by Riza.
“The DPP’s request was to allow the newly-appointed Attorney General time to review the representation, according to media reports. Apparently, the case was postponed to April 2,” he said.
Thomas noted that Riza’s counsel Hariharan Singh was quoted in a media report on April 2 as saying he was still awaiting a reply from the AGC on his client’s representation.
“It follows that the decision to accept Riza’s representation that resulted in the granting of the discharge must have been made between April 2 and May 14, when I was no longer the Attorney General.
“In these circumstances, MACC had actual knowledge that the final paragraph of the press statement that ‘the agreement between the prosecution and the accused through representation in court was a decision considered and agreed by the former attorney general, Tan Sri Tommy Thomas’ is clearly false.
“To compound matters, after I corrected MACC’s false statement on the evening of May 14, MACC responded by stating that they stood by their first statement,” he said.
He added that MACC’s statement was absolutely shocking as it was made after the truth had been pointed out to them.
“It defies credibility that if their fiction has any factual foundation, it would mean that I took the decision to drop the prosecution against Riza on or before Feb 28, but my decision was only implemented in court two-and-a-half months thereafter, and not at the earliest opportunity, which was March 12.
“I trust that this will set the record straight. Truth and facts matter dearly to me,” he said.