‘Freeze can’t be reviewed’

Revered counsel: Thomas walking at the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

KUALA LUMPUR: A freeze order issued by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on the assets and properties owned by former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin and his family is not amenable to a judicial review, the High Court heard.

Senior Federal Counsel Shamsul Bolhassan submitted that the issuance of a freezing order, like the rest of the discretionary powers afforded to law enforcement agencies, was part and parcel of a criminal investigation process.

He said the courts had upheld time and time again that such exercises of function or power were not amenable to judicial review and there were many law authorities on this matter.

Daim’s application for leave for judicial review, if allowed, would hamper the investigation process, SFC Shamsul said.

“For every investigation, a judicial review would be filed, hence the investigation would not be completed.

“We submit that investigative powers cannot be reviewable by this court,” he said yesterday.

SFC Shamsul was making his submission in an application by Daim and family for leave to commence judicial review against a probe by the MACC.

The prosecution further submitted that if Daim’s judicial review was allowed, it would open the floodgates to challenge every other exercise of such functions in relation to criminal investigation.

“Therefore, leave for judicial review ought to be refused by this honourable court,” SFC Shamsul said.

Meanwhile, SFC Liew Horng Bin submitted that Daim was conducting a “fishing expedition” even before he was charged in court.

He said if the court allowed leave for Daim to proceed with the judicial review, the MACC would have no option but to disclose their reasonable cause for investigating the business tycoon.

“In a judicial review, there would be an application for discovery. This is a fishing expedition by application for evidence before he is even charged in court,” SFC Liew said.

In the event that the investigation against Daim leads to nowhere, or No Further Action (NFA) as it is called, Liew said Daim could seek legal remedies in the form of civil courts if he still feels aggrieved.

Meanwhile, Daim’s lawyer Tan Sri Tommy Thomas submitted that the MACC only took Daim’s statement one-and-a-half years after the release of the Pandora Papers.

“It was only in June, 2023, close to two years after the Pandora Papers were released, that the MACC started ramping up its actions against Daim and freezing his family’s assets,” he said.

According to Thomas, the MACC had unlawfully kept his clients accounts frozen since June 7, 2023; raided and seized the 60- storey building Ilham Tower on Dec 18, 2023; raided Daim’s previous residence and seized 11 vehicles on Jan 3.

He said until today, Daim and his family have not been made aware as to what the factual allegations against them were despite many requests by the lawyers.

On Dec 30, 2023, the MACC issued a statement in reply to a public statement by Daim regarding the probe against him.

The MACC stated that the investigations were opened in February 2023 pursuant to the Pandora Papers and in respect of offences under Section 23 of the MACC Act and Section 4(1) of the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

After hearing the submissions, High Court judge Justice Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh fixed March 4 to deliver his decision on Daim’s leave application.

On Jan 10, Daim, his wife, their four children and Ilham Tower as an entity filed the application for leave to commence judicial review to quash MACC’s decision in relation to the probe involving them.

They want a court declaration that MACC’s actions were unlawful, unconstitutional and void, among others.

Daim and his family also want their properties, assets and monies that were seized to be returned to them.

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