Prosecution files to stay High Court ruling on 1MDB-linked forfeiture

KUALA LUMPUR: The prosecution has filed an application to stay the Nov 8 High Court ruling that dismissed the government’s application to forfeit luxury items seized from former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, their children and several others.

The items, including handbags of various brands, 27 vehicles and cash of various currencies seized from Najib, Rosmah, their three children and five other respondents, were allegedly linked to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

The prosecution filed the notice of motion for the stay, together with a supporting affidavit, on Nov 24 naming Najib, Rosmah, Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz (Najib's stepson), their son Nor Ashman Razak, Senijauhar Sdn Bhd, Aiman Ruslan, Goh Gaik Ewe, Roger Ng Chong Hwa (former Goldman Sachs bank officer) and wife Lim Hwee Bin as the first to ninth respondent, respectively.

Based on the supporting affidavit, deputy public prosecutor Harris Ong Mohd Jeffery Ong said the High Court had, on Nov 8, dismissed the prosecution's application to forfeit the gazetted properties and no order was given by Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan for the property to be returned to the claimant.

According to Harris Ong, the application for the stay was made pending an appeal against the decision in the Court of Appeal which was filed on Nov 16.

He claimed that there were special circumstances that supported the application for the stay order, among them being that status quo of the seized property should be maintained until the decision of the Court of Appeal to safeguard the interests of both parties, especially the applicant, in representing the Malaysian government.

"The seized property involves a large amount and is a public fund, so public interest can be preserved by allowing the application to stay the order.

"If this (stay) application is dismissed and the applicant succeeds in the appeal in the Court of Appeal, there is no guarantee that the applicant will recover the seized property because it is feared that the property will be disposed of by the respondent before the applicant's appeal is heard by the Court of Appeal," said Harris Ong in the affidavit.

When met after case management before High Court Deputy Registrar Catherine Nicholas on Thursday (Dec 9), Harris Ong said the court had set Jan 14 for all respondents to file their affidavits in reply.

He said the court also set Feb 17 for further case management.

In the Nov 8 decision, Judge Mohamed Zain, in dismissing the government’s application to forfeit items that were seized from Najib, Rosmah, their children and others, had allowed the government's application to forfeit assets from eight other respondents because they did not object to the application.

The respondents are Mohd Kyizzad Mesran, Yayasan Rakyat 1Malaysia, Yayasan Semesta, Yayasan Mustika Kasih, Rembulan Kembara Sdn Bhd and three former 1MDB officers who have absconded, namely Kee Kok Thiam, Tan Vern Tact and Geh Choh Hun.

On May 18, 2019, the Attorney General's Chambers (AGC) filed a notice of motion to forfeit hundreds of items, allegedly linked to the 1MDB scandal, including handbags of various brands and 27 vehicles seized from Najib, Rosmah, their three children, including Nooryana Najwa, as well as 13 individuals and companies.

Among the items mentioned in the notice are handbags, shoes and watches of various brands, as well as cash in various currencies seized by the police on May 17, 2018, and June 11, 2018, as well as 27 vehicles that were seized on Aug 2, 2018, and a piece of land in Tanjung Bungah, Penang.

Also included is more than RM18mil in several bank accounts at Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd, Al-Rajhi Bank Bhd, Malayan Banking Bhd, CIMB Bank Bhd, RHB Bank Bhd, Public Bank Bhd, AmBank Bhd and Hong Leong Bank Bhd that were frozen between Aug 16, 2018, and March 11, 2019.

However, the AGC allowed a representation by Nooryana Najwa for the return of items that belonged to her, which included handbags and shoes. – Bernama

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