Umno spent all RM245 mil given by Najib for GE13, court told

Umno had utilised the money by 2014. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today heard that Umno spent all the election money its former president Najib Razak gave it for the 2013 general election.

Lawyer Hariharan Tara Singh, in making his submission on the government’s civil application to forfeit money from Umno alleged to have come from 1MDB, said Najib had issued seven cheques to the party, amounting to RM245 million, for the election.

Umno, he added, had utilised the money by 2014.

He said Najib, who was president from 2009 to 2018, was given powers under Umno’s constitution to raise funds for the party.

“What MACC had seized (RM212 million) came from other sources and not Datuk Seri (Najib). We will show the court that the money in Umno’s account today is not from 1MDB, as claimed by the prosecution,” he said in contesting the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) bid to forfeit RM212 million on grounds that it was 1MDB money.

Hariharan submitted that the prosecution had applied the wrong provision under Section 56 of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act, or Amla, in filing the forfeiture application against Umno.

He added that another High Court was still hearing Najib’s 1MDB case on money laundering and abuse of power and that it had yet to make any finding on that.

“The predicate offence under Section 23 of MACC Act must be proven first.

“So far, there is no evidence produced here to say he (Najib) influenced the 1MDB board of directors to enter a joint venture with Petro Saudi International or he gave written instructions to them as the company’s board of advisers’ chairman,” Hariharan said.

He said nothing was mentioned in the minutes of the 1MDB company meetings to show that Najib had influenced the company’s directors with regards to the joint venture.

Deputy public prosecutor Allan Suman Pillai interjected to say the defence lawyer was “beating around the bush” in submitting matters on Najib’s 1MDB case.

“Our case today is against Umno but the counsel is telling the court about proving the predicate offence first,” he added.

Hariharan replied that one of the cheques Umno received was the subject matter in Najib’s 1MDB case, where it was alleged that Najib had issued a RM20 million cheque to Umno on Aug 2, 2013.

“If that is so, the proceeding today is defective. They should have filed their application under Section 55 and not Section 56 of Amla,” he said, adding that Section 55 empowered the public prosecutor to make the forfeiture bid after an accused person was convicted.

Allan then told the court the prosecution wanted to make an amendment to its forfeiture application – to deduct RM20 million from the RM212 million that the government wanted to forfeit.

High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan allowed the prosecution’s request to reduce the RM212 million to RM192 million, despite objections from Hariharan.

The court ordered Allan and another deputy public prosecutor, Mahadi Abdul Jumaat, to respond to submissions by Umno and other organisations by Jan 3, 2020. Zaini said he would fix another hearing date after Jan 3.

Other organisations such as Wanita MCA, Binsabi Sdn Bhd and Perano Sdn Bhd are also resisting forfeiture applications.

Lawyers for Wanita MCA, Binsabi and Perano agreed with Hariharan’s submission on the validity of MACC’s forfeiture application.