Lawyer charged with money laundering to enter defence before new judge

PUTRAJAYA: A lawyer, who is charged with eight counts of money laundering amounting to RM5.6 million, will return to the Sessions Court next week to continue with his defence before a new judge.

This came about after the Court of Appeal today struck out the prosecution’s appeal against the decision of the High Court that had ruled that Ong Keh Keong’s conviction and 15-year jail term in his absence was wrong.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Dhiya Syazwani Izyan Mohd Akhir told a three-member bench chaired by Hamid Sultan Abu Backer today that the prosecution was not appealing the decision and a notice of discontinuance had been filed.

Hamid, who sat with Hadhariah Syed Ismail and Abu Bakar Jais, then struck out the appeal.

Lawyers Guok Ngek Seong and Yasmeen Soh represented Ong.

Judicial commissioner Meor Hashimi Abdul Hamid at the High Court in Shah Alam allowed Ong’s review on conviction and set aside the jail term when the lawyer was not present in court.

Meor Hashimi, who ordered that Ong’s continued defence should be heard before a new Sessions Court judge, said the accused had a genuine medical certificate from a government hospital for his absence.

The judge said the conviction and sentence was also a denial of a fair trial and the Sessions Court did not call the medical officer who issued the certificate for an explanation.

Instead of returning to the Sessions Court, the prosecution appealed Meor Hashimi’s ruling.

Ong was told to enter his defence on the charges and his lawyer had completed the examination-in-chief but he was absent on April 24, 2018, when the prosecution was about to cross-examine him.

Deputy public prosecutor Asmah Musa had submitted that the accused was absconding and the medical certificate was to further delay the trial.

Asmah said Ong had also been absent several times when the prosecution was conducting its case.

The court then went on to convict him and Ong was arrested at a golf club and sent to prison.

He was set free after the High Court allowed his review on June 8, 2018.