PUTRAJAYA: Former Federal Territories minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor has walked out a free man after the Court of Appeal here acquitted and discharged him from his RM2mil corruption case, although the prosecution intends to file an appeal.
His conviction and sentence – he was handed 12 months’ jail and a RM2mil fine – were set aside by the appellate court in a 2-1 majority decision here yesterday.
Deputy public prosecutor Asmah Musa told reporters that the prosecution would be filing an appeal with the Federal Court.
The majority decision yesterday was handed down by Justice Suraya Othman who chaired a three-man panel.
The court found that the RM2mil deposited into the bank account of Tadmansori Holdings Sdn Bhd was a political donation as testified by several witnesses, including the prosecution’s own star witness Tan Sri Chai Kin Kong.
Chai, who is the director of Aset Kayamas Sdn Bhd (AKSB), had testified during cross-examination that the sum of RM2mil was a political donation and not meant for the appellant.
“In short, the purpose of which the money was utilised for the two by-elections (Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar) was made clear to Chai,” said Justice Suraya.
She added that the prosecution had failed to re-examine Chai’s testimony on this particular evidence of political donation, which amounted to an acceptance of Chai’s testimony.
The prosecution did not suggest that Chai was dishonest or untruthful and did not make any attempt to impeach or treat him as a hostile witness, she said.
“Further, in his grounds of judgment, the learned High Court judge had not directed his mind to the failure of the prosecution to at least re-examine Chai on his evidence that the RM2mil was a political donation to Umno.
“We find that such a failure on such a critical point or issue amounted to a non-direction which rendered the conviction unsafe,” Justice Suraya said.
The prosecution, in its submission, had contended that the RM2mil was paid to the appellant for himself as the cheque was credited into the account of Tadmansori and there was no corresponding payment from Umno to Tadmansori.
“In our judgment, crediting the RM2mil cheque into Tadmansori did not lead to an irresistible conclusion that the appellant had committed the offence charged.
“And this, per se, is insufficient to convict the appellant as it is circumstantial evidence which does not point irresistibly to the guilt of the appellant,” she said, adding that the trial judge should have discharged and acquitted Tengku Adnan in December last year.
Justice Ahmad Nasfy Yasin affirmed the majority decision.
Meanwhile, Justice Abu Bakar Jais, in his dissenting view, agreed with the trial judge’s finding that the appellant had received the RM2mil cheque for himself.
He found the RM2mil cheque was not a political donation for Umno as the appellant had asserted because the cheque was issued to Tadmansori, a company in which the appellant held a 99.99% stake.
“I’m also of the view that it was self-serving for the accused to say that he had requested Chai to issue the cheque to Tadmansori instead of Umno because he had used his own money for Umno.
“He was unable to prove that he had used exactly that amount for Umno,” Justice Abu Bakar said.
Tengku Adnan, together with his family and supporters, were seen reciting prayers outside of the court complex after the proceedings ended. He left immediately without speaking to the press.
Tengku Adnan, 70, was charged in his capacity as Federal Territories Minister, and was accused of committing the offence at CIMB Bank Bhd, Damansara Town Centre branch here on June 14, 2016, under Section 165 of the Penal Code.