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Stop twisting facts, lawyer tells BN over latest DoJ action

Lawyer Haniff Khatri says a responsible government would not spin move by US Department of Justice to start a criminal probe into 1MDB and turn it into dishonest propaganda.

Dont't twist and turn legal issues merely for dishonest propaganda, says Haniff.

Dont’t twist and turn legal issues merely for dishonest propaganda, says Haniff.

PETALING JAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla has told the government to stop denying the latest development on the 1MDB-related US$540 million forfeiture lawsuit by the US Department of Justice (DoJ).

Bloomberg had reported that court filings by the DoJ on Thursday showed that it was escalating its probe into a criminal one, in a worldwide effort to track how much of the money that was raised by 1MDB for development projects was used to pay for various assets.

“The government of Najib Razak should stop spinning and twisting the facts without finding out the actual legal position of the DoJ’s latest actions.

“A responsible government is not expected to twist and turn legal issues merely for its dishonest propaganda,” Haniff told FMT.

The lawyer was responding to Barisan Nasional strategic communications (BNSC) deputy director Eric See-To’s statement yesterday that DoJ’s latest move to halt the lawsuit’s proceedings meant the civil case was “frozen”.

“This is nothing new as more than a year ago, there were periodic news reports that criminal charges were imminent but until today, no criminal charges had been filed.

“I also note that the DoJ had asked for an indefinite suspension of the civil suit, which is unusual as there is usually a time limit to such requests.

“Until such (criminal) charges are filed, the net effect is that the US government has essentially indefinitely frozen the much-talked about civil suits,” he said in a statement.

Earlier, it was reported that the DoJ had put on hold civil forfeiture lawsuits against Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, after the agency escalated its probe into a criminal investigation of money allegedly embezzled from 1MDB being used to buy more than US$1 billion (RM4.3 billion) in real estate and other assets.

DoJ officials were reported as saying that pursuing the agency’s current forfeiture lawsuits might have “an adverse effect” on its ability to conduct the criminal investigation.

Its investigations involved efforts to track how much of the money that was raised by 1MDB for development projects was used to pay for various assets including luxury real estate, art, film productions, a luxury yacht, private jet and more.

Haniff said the US government’s decision to put the civil suits on hold meant that “there was a potentially heavier effect on the 1MDB issue”.

“The direct criminal probe is proof that 1MDB monies were swindled.

“And it runs afoul of the government’s continuous denial that no money was allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB,” he said.

Faiz: The criminal investigation shows that more serious action is being taken.

Faiz: The criminal investigation shows that more serious action is being taken.

Lawyer and Amanah Youth deputy chief Faiz Fadzil Noor also rubbished See-To’s response to the DoJ’s move.

“The civil suit was only the initial move to freeze assets allegedly procured through money laundering. The DoJ is postponing the civil suit to facilitate the criminal investigation.

“It doesn’t affect the validity of the civil suit. The criminal investigation shows that more serious action is being taken.”

Faiz added that during the course of the criminal investigation, US authorities could still seize assets allegedly bought using 1MDB funds.

“Similarly, in Malaysia, under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (Amla), the authorities could do the same.

“Our authorities should reopen the investigation into the 1MDB issue, seeing as how the DoJ is also pursuing criminal action.”

Civil action is still very much alive and is not weakened in any way, says Ramkarpal.

Civil action is still very much alive and is not weakened in any way, says Ramkarpal.

Meanwhile, lawyer Ramkarpal Singh said there was nothing sinister about the department’s move, as it did not want to jeopardise the criminal investigations.

“The civil action is still very much alive. It is not weakened in any way.

“There is also no indication or statement that there is any impediment to the suit. It is just being halted temporarily,” he said when contacted.

Ramkarpal said the civil suit is still a strong application and is not hampered.

“If there is any problem with the civil proceedings, the suit would have been withdrawn,” he added.

IGP to check report on US’ criminal probe into 1MDB-related assets

DoJ’s 1MDB civil suit ‘indefinitely frozen’ now, says BN

US now moves criminal investigation into 1MDB funds


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