Businesswoman claims trial in country’s first ‘smurfing’ case

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 yesterday.

Court date: Mazni arriving at the Sessions Court to face several charges of ‘smurfing’ and money laundering. — BernamaCourt date: Mazni arriving at the Sessions Court to face several charges of ‘smurfing’ and money laundering. — Bernama

Structuring a transaction, or better known as “smurfing”, is a technique used by financial criminals to deposit or withdraw cash obtained from illegal activities to evade detection by a bank, which is required to report the deposit or withdrawal of more than RM25,000 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.

According to the first until the fourth charge sheets, Mazni allegedly ordered one Syed Ajarul Asuad Syed Aziz to structure four transactions – 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.

The four charges were framed under Section 4A(1) of the same Act and Mazni faces a fine of no 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 tax 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 of 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, however asked for a lower bail amount on 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,” Theivendran 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.

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