PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has been reminded to follow the laws and procedures in ensuring that evidence collected overseas in the 1MDB investigation is admissible in local courts.
Former attorney-general (AG) Abu Talib Othman said the anti-graft agency must keep in mind the 2007 Federal Court ruling which rejected evidence collected in Hong Kong to prosecute former Perwaja Steel managing director Eric Chia Eng Hock for criminal breach of trust.
“Former AG Abdul Gani Patail went around the world collecting evidence only to have it rejected by the apex court,” he told FMT.
Abu Talib was responding to MACC chief commissioner Mohd Shukri Abdull’s statement that the investigation into 1MDB was now focused on obtaining evidence from overseas.
“We have completed 50% of the probe involving local evidence. Now we are looking into evidence from overseas,” he told the media on Saturday.
AG Tommy Thomas on June 12 said he had allowed the MACC to collect evidence in Switzerland, US, France and the United Arab Emirates.
Abu Talib, who is heading a committee to coordinate investigations into 1MDB, said public funds would be wasted if witness statements tendered in court were ruled inadmissible.
The primary focus of the committee is to ensure convictions for all wrongdoings related to 1MDB and to maximise the recovery of assets traceable to 1MDB.
On Jan 31, 2007, a five-member bench led by then-chief justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim ruled that the prosecution could not admit the evidence of six witnesses recorded in Hong Kong for the RM76.4 million CBT trial.
Fairuz held that the evidence sought for admission by the prosecution under Section 8 (3) of the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 2002 did not satisfy the requirements under the Evidence Act 1950.
Chia had gone to the Federal Court after the Court of Appeal and the High Court reversed a Sessions Court ruling rejecting the prosecution’s application to produce the evidence obtained in Hong Kong.
The apex court then ordered the trial to resume and Chia was acquitted of the charge in June 2007 without his defence being called.
The following year, the 74-year-old died at a hospital in Sungai Petani after developing breathing difficulties.
Trial judge Akhtar Tahir acquitted Chia of misappropriating RM76.4 million from Perwaja Rolling Mill and Development Sdn Bhd in his capacity as its managing director on Feb 19, 1994.
The judge also acquitted Chia of an alternative charge of dishonestly disposing of Perwaja’s funds by entering into an agreement with NKK Corporation, Japan, and authorising the RM76.4 million to be paid into the account of Frilsham Enterprise Inc with the American Express Bank Ltd, Hong Kong.