Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Govt loses bid to forfeit RM114 million linked to Umno, Najib

However, judge makes no order for the money to be returned to its owners.

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The government today failed in its application to forfeit RM114 million, allegedly belonging to Umno and former prime minister Najib Razak, seized from a premise belonging to Obyu Holdings Sdn Bhd.

This followed the decision by High Court judge Muhammad Jamil Hussin to dismiss the application by the prosecution to forfeit the money seized by the police at Pavilion Residence on May 17, 2018.

In dismissing the application, Jamil said the applicant failed to prove that the money, amounting to RM114,164,393.44, was proceeds from money laundering.

However, he made no order for the money, which is with Bank Negara Malaysia, to be returned to its owners.

Umno and Najib are third-party claimants to the money. Any third party claiming to have an interest in property seized by the government is required to appear in court to present reasons why it should not be forfeited by the government.

In 2019, the prosecution filed a forfeiture application against Obyu Holdings to forfeit the money, as well as 11,991 units of jewellery, 401 watches and 16 watch accessories, 234 pairs of spectacles and 306 handbags.

The money and items of jewellery were seized by the authorities for their alleged links to the 1MDB fund scandal.

In his decision, Jamil said the investigating officer in the money laundering case, ACP D Rajagopal, failed to show that the money seized was stolen property or the result of breach of trust or fraud.

“ACP Rajagopal failed to disclose and identify the person/s who had been entrusted with 1MDB’s money, who had dominant control over the money and misused the funds, besides failing to explain that Najib was the 1MDB agent,” he added.

He said the court found that the applicant had failed to prove the link between the money in Najib’s AmBank account and the money that was seized.

The prosecution’s argument that Nazir Razak had cashed a check drawn from Najib’s account and returned RM20 million to Najib was not true, he added.

“There was also no evidence that the RM20 million received by Najib was part of the money seized. True, the money seized was found in Pavilion Residences, along with the other assets that were seized.

“Najib had also explained that he transferred RM160 million (actual amount) from Seri Perdana to Pavilion Residences.

“On the balance of probability, the applicant failed to prove the seized money was linked to money laundering or proceeds from unlawful activities, involving criminal breach of trust and stolen property.

“Therefore, the applicant’s application is dismissed,” the judge said.

After Jamil delivered the verdict, deputy public prosecutor Muhammad Saifuddin Hashim Musaimi asked about the status of money and if there was an order for the money to be returned to Umno and Najib.

He also applied for a stay of today’s decision, saying the prosecution would appeal against it at the Court of Appeal.

However, Jamil rejected the prosecution’s request. On the status of the money, said, “To me, where the money was seized is where it should be returned.”

Najib’s lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, when met by reporters, said he would submit a letter to the prosecution within the next 24 hours for the money to be released to Najib and Umno.

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