KUALA LUMPUR: A 59-year-old businesswoman has been charged at the Sessions Court here with four counts of transaction structuring involving more than RM230,000, believed to be the first case of its kind in the country.
Mazni Abu Bakar pleaded not guilty after the charges were read out to her before Sessions Court judge Sabariah Othman on Wednesday (June 30).
According to the first to the fourth charge sheets, Mazni allegedly ordered one Syed Ajarul Asuad Syed Aziz to structure four transactions – for RM60,009.50, RM67,417.30, RM50,130.20 and RM61,018.35 – into a CIMB account belonging to Sasrestu Sdn Bhd in order to avoid reporting the transactions as required under Section 14(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act (Amlatfapuaa) 2001.
Under Section 14(1)(a), it is stated that a reporting institution shall promptly report to the competent authority if a transaction exceeds an amount that the competent authority may specify.
The four charges were framed under Section 4A(1) of the same Act and Mazni faces a fine of not more than five times the amount involved or imprisonment of up to seven years or both, if convicted.
Mazni was also hit with four charges of money laundering under Section 4(1)(b) of the Act.
According to the fifth charge, she was accused of transferring RM47,627.92 from Sasrestu’s bank account to a bank account belonging to Teakway Industrial Sdn Bhd through a cheque.
For the sixth charge, Mazni allegedly used RM65,000 to purchase a Toyota Alphard.
For the seventh charge, the accused allegedly used RM104,832.80 for Customs payment which she deposited into an account belonging to Visi Inisiatif Sdn Bhd through cheques.
For the eighth charge, Mazni was accused of disposing of RM15,892.23 that she received from one Azizul Fakhri Nordin.
The money laundering charges under Section 4(1)(b) of the Act carry imprisonment of up to 15 years and a fine of no more than five times the amount involved or RM5mil, whichever is higher.
Mazni allegedly committed all the offences at CIMB Bank in Taman Melawati between Jan 16 and Sept 18, 2018.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Mahadi Abdul Jumaat offered bail at RM300,000 in one surety for all charges.
He also asked the court to impose additional conditions for the accused to report to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) office monthly and to surrender her passport to the court.
Lawyer K. Theivendran, who represented the accused, asked for a lower bail on the grounds that his client has three children to care for and the youngest is still schooling.
“The amount suggested is unreasonable. The accused is not a flight risk. She has a souvenir shop that is closed due to the movement control order,” he said.
The judge then fixed bail at RM80,000 in one surety and ordered for the additional conditions asked by the prosecution to be imposed.
The case is set for mention on July 30.
On Monday, it was reported that a businesswoman would be charged for transaction structuring, believed to be the first such case in the country.
Sources said structuring a transaction, better known as "smurfing", was a technique used by financial criminals to deposit or withdraw cash obtained from illegal activities.
It is used to evade detection by a bank, which is required to report the deposit or withdrawal of more than RM50,000 of funds daily by a customer to Bank Negara.
The central bank uses the Cash Threshold Report (CTR) mechanism to monitor any cash transaction, be it deposit or withdrawal, conducted by any individual at a bank.
In December 2018, Bank Negara amended the transaction amount that requires reports from a bank from RM50,000 daily to RM25,000 daily.
The new threshold was enforced on Jan 1, 2019.