I was told Thomas ‘agreed in principle’ to Riza deal, says AG

Attorney-General Idrus Harun says the conditions of the deal were presented to him ‘after I had been made aware of Thomas’ earlier position’.

PETALING JAYA: Attorney-General Idrus Harun claimed that his predecessor, Tommy Thomas, was prepared to consider a representation from Riza Aziz last year to drop money laundering charges provided certain conditions were met.

Idrus said he had been advised that Thomas, after perusing the letter of representation, also sought the views of senior deputy public prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram.

Idrus, who was appointed AG on March 6, said he was further advised that Sri Ram, in consultation with the then chief commissioner of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Latheefa Koya, suggested that the proposals laid down in the representation be accepted by the anti-graft body.

“I have also been advised that Thomas had agreed to the suggestion in principle. This paved the way for further negotiations and planning of the mechanism to be adopted,” he said in a statement.

Yesterday, Thomas insisted that he did not make any decisions during his time in office to drop money laundering charges against the Hollywood film producer.

Thomas resigned from office on Feb 28.

He said it was “absolutely shocking” to him that the MACC was standing by its statement that he had agreed to the settlement between Riza and the government, where Putrajaya is expected to recover US$107.3 million (RM467 million) in assets from Riza.

Idrus said since the filing of the charges last July, Riza had made several representations to the Attorney-General’s Chambers through his solicitors

He said that on Nov 18, 2019, the solicitors sent a representation to the AGC seeking a review of all five charges against Riza in the Sessions Court.

The letter of representation, among others, proposed that Riza surrender his rights in three properties seized by the United States Department of Justice.

The properties in question were a bungalow in Beverly Hills, California, an apartment in New York, and a townhouse in London, United Kingdom.

Riza was agreeable to have the monies seized from him forfeited to the government
and to pay a compound as provided under Section 92 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act.

On March 11, he said, Riza’s solicitors sent another letter of representation fortifying the earlier proposal and undertook that should Riza fail to comply with the terms and conditions, the five charges would remain.

“This was then presented to me after I had been made aware of Thomas’ earlier position.

“Having been briefed by the deputy public prosecutors in charge of the matter, I shared the views of my predecessor as had been informed to me, and agreed to accept the offer that was made by Riza,” Idrus added.

The Sessions Court here on Thursday allowed the prosecution, led by Sri Ram, to grant Riza an order of discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA).

Sri Ram told judge Azman Ahmad that “an agreement has been arrived at between the prosecution and the accused under the terms of which the federal government will receive a substantial sum running into several million ringgit”.

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