Anwar attacks MACC over Riza settlement

PKR president Anwar Ibrahim.

PETALING JAYA: Anwar Ibrahim today attacked the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) over the decision to grant a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNNA) to Riza Aziz, the stepson of former prime minister Najib Razak who had been facing money laundering charges.

“It shows MACC was not aggressive in fighting this (corruption),” he said in a veiled jibe at former PKR lawyer Latheefa Koya, who was the MACC chief when Riza made representation for a settlement of his case.

Anwar also said Latheefa had been silent on the matter.

“We want to question if it is right to settle the case (this way,” he said in a Facebook live session today.

His comments come in the wake of former attorney-general Tommy Thomas’ angry reaction to the decision allowing Riza to return money allegedly from 1MDB.

Riza was charged with five counts of money laundering amounting to US$248 million paid to his Hollywood production company Red Granite Pictures between 2011 and 2012.

Under a settlement announced by the court on May 14, he will surrender his rights to three properties seized by the US Department of Justice (DoJ), forfeit the money seized from him to the government, and pay a RM500,000 compound under the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act.

MACC and current Attorney-General Idrus Harun have said that the settlement followed procedures and was made after Thomas agreed in principle to the move.

FMT today reported on documents showing that Thomas was kept updated on Riza’s representation request, first made in a letter by his lawyer in November last year.

Anwar today questioned the amount of money that Riza needs to return under the settlement.

“The same is (when a person) steals 10 bikes, and after discussion, the case is settled by returning one bike,” he said.

Thomas had repeatedly distanced himself from the court’s decision to grant Riza the DNAA, saying he would not betray Pakatan Harapan (PH) under whose administration he served before resigning in February.

He even called the settlement “a sweetheart deal for Riza”, saying the US$108 million that the government stood to get back “would in any event be returned by the DoJ to Malaysia”.

But senior investigators in MACC told FMT today that allowing representation for Riza was “nothing strange”.

“Our policy since June 2019 as far as the 1MDB scandal is concerned has been about recovering assets,” one senior officer told FMT.

“It was also in that spirit that we named 41 entities and individuals for civil forfeiture. And then we went for issuing compound notices against those who received these illicit 1MDB funds.”

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