Court dismisses govt’s bid to seize RM192 million from Umno headquarters

Lawyers (from left) Hariharan Tara Singh, Tania Scivetti and Nur Fazreen Hazrina Rahim who represented Umno.

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today dismissed the government’s application to forfeit about RM192 million from the Umno headquarters, after ruling that the funds were not from unlawful proceeds sourced from 1MDB.

Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan said seven cheques amounting to RM245 million received from Umno’s then president Najib Razak were spent in the 13th general election in 2013.

“The RM192,965,413.65 that is frozen cannot be said to be money received by Umno from Najib” he said.

He said the money received from Najib had long been spent and the frozen sum came from companies and other sources.

On similar grounds, Zaini also refused the government’s application to forfeit RM300,000 from Wanita MCA, Binsabi Sdn Bhd (RM777,250) and Perano Sdn Bhd (RM337,734)

Zaini, however allowed deputy public prosecutor Mahadi Abdul Jumaat’s application for the money to remain frozen pending disposal of a hearing to stay today’s ruling.

Mahadi, who is assisted by deputy public prosecutor Samihah Rhazali, said the prosecution would file its notice of appeal and then a formal stay application by next Friday.

Lawyer Hariharan Tara Singh, Tania Scivetti and Nur Fazreen Hazrina Rahim represented Umno.

Wanita MCA was represented by Ben Chan, while Perano by Thevini Nayagam and Habizan Habeeb Rahman, and Binsabi by Tengku Shazuan Tengku Shariffudin and Muhammad Hasif Hasan.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) froze the money from the four entities in June 2018 as it was allegedly linked to the 1MDB scandal

In Umno’ case, the government applied to forfeit the money on June 18 last year, just before the 12-month deadline for the money to remain frozen came to an end.

Najib is currently facing 25 charges of money laundering and abuse of power over alleged 1MDB funds in his AmBank account.

He was accused of abusing his position to obtain RM2.28 billion in bribes in February 2011 and December 2014.

He was also said to have transferred the RM2.28 billion in illegal funds to his bank account, and to have subsequently used the money.

On June 21, MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya said the anti-graft body had filed civil forfeiture applications against 41 individuals and entities to recover money allegedly transferred from Najib’s account.

Latheefa said the forfeiture applications filed under Section 56 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act are to recover RM270 million of 1MDB money transferred to Najib’s account and later to the individuals and entities.

She said the biggest recipients of the money were Umno divisions and branches which received RM212 million.