PETALING JAYA: The Attorney General has explained the steps leading to the terms of settlement with Riza Abdul Aziz over money-laundering charges related to the 1MDB funds, to which he said Tan Sri Tommy Thomas “agreed in principle”.
Tan Sri Idrus Harun, who took office in March after Thomas resigned a month earlier, said he acted upon the advice of his predecessor’s position on the case.
Idrus said he was advised that Thomas, after perusing a letter of representation by Riza’s solicitors dated Nov 18,2019, had sought the views of Senior Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram.
“Thomas had said that in light of the proposals outlined by Riza’s solicitors, he was prepared to consider the representation, ” said Idrus in a statement yesterday.
Idrus said the letter of representation by the solicitors had sought for a review of the criminal charges against their client by proposing, among others, that the properties and monies seized from Riza be forfeited to the government.
“I have been further advised that Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, in consultation with the then Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Latheefa Koya, suggested that the proposals laid down in the letter of representation be accepted by the MACC.
“I have also been advised that Tan Sri Tommy Thomas had agreed to the suggestion in principle. This paved the way for further negotiations and planning of the mechanism to be adopted, to take place, ” he said.
Idrus’ statement came in the wake of Thomas disputing a claim by the MACC implicating him in the decision of the case involving Riza.
Riza, who is the stepson of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, was on May 14 given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal by the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court over five counts of money laundering charges involving US$248mil (RM1.25bil) linked to 1MDB.
Idrus said on March 11 this year, the solicitors sent another letter of representation fortifying the earlier proposal and undertook that should Riza fail to comply with the terms and conditions, the original five money laundering charges would remain.
“This was then presented to me after I had been made aware of Tan Sri Thomas’ earlier position.
“Having been briefed by the Deputy Public Prosecutors in charge of the matter, I shared the views of my predecessor as had been informed to me, and agreed to accept the offer that was made by Riza, subject to his strict compliance with the terms and conditions, ” he said.
On April 16, MACC, said Idrus, replied to the solicitors, essentially stating that the Public Prosecutor was willing to apply for a discharge not amounting to an acquittal on all five charges.
This was subject to Riza taking steps to ensure that the monies and properties seized be transferred to the government, and to pay a compound pursuant to Section 92 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act.
On April 21, MACC again wrote to the solicitors, instructing Riza to relinquish his rights, title and interest in another asset identified as the “Metropolis Poster”, said Idrus.
It is a one-framed, three-sheet colour lithograph poster created by German artist Heinz Schulz-Neudamm for the 1927 silent film Metropolis.
On May 13, MACC wrote to the solicitors, instructing Riza to transfer US$14,087,072.76 (RM61.3mil) held in an escrow account at Huntington National Bank, the United States, to the government.
“With this arrangement, the government was expected to recover approximately US$108mil (RM469.9mil) – subject to the eventual sale proceeds of the assets and deduction of the associated costs thereof – to be credited into the 1MDB Asset Recovery Trust Account.
“This is in addition to the US$57,036,688.68 (RM248.1mil) which was forfeited earlier in April 2019 from Red Granite Pictures, a company co-owned by Riza, the funds of which were traced to 1MDB, ” said Idrus.
These arrangements, he said, were part of the government’s ongoing efforts to recover assets related to 1MDB.
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