The High Court in Kuala Lumpur today acquitted and discharged Pontian MP Ahmad Maslan of charges of failing to declare RM2 million received from Najib Razak to the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) and giving false statements to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
Judge Ahmad Shahrir Mohd Salleh ordered Ahmad to be freed after deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Mohd Mukhzany Fariz Mohd Mokhtar informed the court that the prosecution was withdrawing the two charges after the accused paid a compound of RM1.1 million yesterday.
“In making the application not to proceed with the prosecution against the accused, the DPP confirmed that the accused will not be charged again with the same charges in the future. This is due to the fact that the accused had accepted the offer of compound and settled the compound payment.
“In accordance with Section 254 of the Criminal Procedure Code and decision of the Court of Appeal in the public prosecutor’s case against Ambika MA Shanmugam, the court hereby orders that the accused be acquitted and discharged of the first and second charge. All dates that have been fixed to hear the case have been vacated,” he said.
Earlier, Mukhzany told the court that the prosecution had applied for a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) on both charges.
“Before this charge was made against the accused (Ahmad), the accused was offered a compound, but he initially did not agree to pay the compound.
“After the charges were read out to him, his lawyer sent a letter of representation and agreed to pay a compound of RM1.1 million. Therefore, the MACC and the AGC (Attorney-General’s Chambers) agreed with the accused’s representation… so with this the prosecution agreed for the case to be given a DNAA,” he added.
Shahrir: Will the prosecution continue with the same charge against the accused?
Mukhzany: As it is, the compound was offered to the accused and the accused has settled the compound… the prosecution will not prosecute him again for the same offence.
Shahrir said the attorney-general is empowered under Article 145 (3) of the Federal Constitution to initiate, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence.
“This power of prosecution may be exercised by the attorney-general at his discretion. Section 376(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code further strengthens this position and states the attorney-general shall be the public prosecutor and shall have control and direction in all criminal prosecutions.
“When the public prosecutor exercises his power under Section 254(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code not to further prosecute the accused, it is the duty of the court to consider whether the accused should be given an acquittal without a discharge, or acquitted and discharged,” he said.
The judge said the matter was a judicial discretionary that must be considered in accordance with the law.
Shahrir also said the court could not order the public prosecutor to continue prosecuting the accused if the prosecution had withdrawn the charges.
“This is the position of the law that is in force. In the case of the public prosecutor against Ambika MA Shanmugam, the Court of Appeal ruled, among other things, that when the public prosecutor decides not to proceed with the prosecution, the court can grant an order of discharge without acquittal.”
Meanwhile, lawyer Hamidi Mohd Noh, representing Ahmad, requested for his client to be acquitted and discharged of the two charges as the accused had settled the compound.
“In the case of Public Prosecutor v Syed Abdul Bahari Shahabuddin, the court ruled that in every case where the prosecution withdraws the case, the order that should be given is acquittal with a discharge, unless the prosecution can give stronger grounds for obtaining an order for DNAA,” he added.
The court had previously set 23 days starting June 7 next year to hear the case. Today was set for case management.
Ahmad, in a press statement issued by Messrs Shahrul Hamidi & Haziq, said the process of resolving the case was not something new and had taken more than a year before it was accepted and recorded in court today.
“Several representations were sent to the AGC… The settlement process went through a series of applications, discussions and arbitration between the parties concerned and was only recorded in court after it was agreed on by all parties.
“The settlement process was also finalised after all parties were ready to give their respective commitment to the agreed settlement terms,” he said.
For the first charge, Ahmad was alleged to have engaged in money laundering by not reporting his actual income in the income tax return form for the year of assessment 2013 which is contrary to Section 113 (1)(a) of the Income Tax Act 1967.
The former deputy finance minister was alleged to have received the money, believed to be proceeds from unlawful activities, through a check from AmIslamic Bank dated Nov 27, 2013 which he personally cashed on the same day
The offence was allegedly committed at LHDN’s Duta branch at the Government Office Complex, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Halim, on April 30, 2014.
The charge, framed under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, provided for a maximum fine of RM5 million, imprisonment of up to five years, or both, upon conviction.
The other charge was for giving false statements to MACC when questioned by investigating officer Mohd Zairi Zainal over the issue at the media conference room at the Parliament building between 2.45pm and 3.30pm on July 4, 2019.
The charge, framed under Section 32(8)c) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, provided for a maximum fine of RM3 million, imprisonment for up to five years, or both upon conviction.