KUALA LUMPUR: Ten men have been fined RM1,000 each by the Ampang Magistrate's Court here for failing to give an explanation for the combined sum of RM3.14mil in their bank accounts.
The money originally belonged to a 31-year-old private school teacher.
Magistrate Normaizan Rahim passed the sentence on contractor Mohamad Saifuddin Ismail, 29; lorry driver Mohammad Anas Kamarudin, 31; security guard Muhammad Ariff Ahmad Tajuddin, 29; technician Muhamad Helmi Ahmad, 39; and fisherman Mohd Syukur Maula Muhamad Desa, 32, after they pleaded guilty to the charge.
The rest who pleaded guilty to the charge were security guard Mohd Hafiz Kamis, 38; trader Muhammad Ikhwan Iswandy Ramli, 38; odd-job worker Mohd Nizam Mat Jasat, 51; construction site supervisor Khairul Mizan Mohamad Johari, 31; and contractor S. Vikneswaran, 29.
The court also ordered all of them to serve three months in jail if they fail to pay the fine.
The men – charged separately – were accused of not being able to give a satisfactory explanation on how they obtained the money.
The offences were committed at two banks in Ampang between Feb 2 and April 4.
The charge under Section 29(1) of the Minor Offences Act carries a maximum fine of RM1,000, imprisonment of up to one year or both, upon conviction.
According to the statement of facts, the complainant received a phone call from a man, who introduced himself as the chief operating officer from the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN), who said the complainant had a 15-month tax arrears amounting to RM17,600.76 linked to Syarikat Trillion Star Enterprise, a company registered under the complainant's name.
When the complainant denied the matter, the call was connected to other men who introduced themselves as "Inspector Faisal Amir" and "Kedah operations police chief Datuk Rizal" whereby they claimed that the complainant was involved in money laundering using a Public Bank account belonging to the complainant.
The complainant then followed the suspect's instructions and opened a new bank account and gave his banking details to the suspect.
Investigations showed that the complainant's money was transferred into bank accounts belonging to the 10 men.
During mitigation, National Legal Aid Foundation lawyer Mohd Faiz Fahmy Abdul Razak, who represented all 10 accused, asked for a minimum fine without jail time for all of his clients on grounds that they needed to support their families.
"In this case, my clients are also victims and they did not realise their bank accounts were used by a third party. They do not receive any benefits from the losses suffered by the complainant," the lawyer said.
Deputy Public Prosecutors Annur Athirah Amran and Nurul Ameera Sam urged the court to impose a just sentence to serve as a lesson by taking public interest into consideration.
The prosecution said that as account holders, the accused men should know of the transactions in their own bank accounts, especially if it involves a large sum of money.
The court must also consider the frequency of such cases being brought before the court and the losses suffered by the complainant, the DPPs said.