Strike two for MACC in bid to retain RM192 million in Umno’s account

PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal today dismissed the stay application by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to retain RM192 million in Umno funds frozen by the anti-graft agency in its investigations into 1MDB.

The court also dismissed MACC’s stay application against MCA’s women’s wing and two companies – Binsabi Sdn Bhd and Perano Sdn Bhd – for another RM2 million.

A three-member bench chaired by Yaacob Md Sam said MACC showed no special circumstances warranting the continuance of the freeze order.

“Fear of the respondents dissipating the money if it is returned is insufficient to allow the stay and render its appeal futile should it win the case (at the Court of Appeal),” he said.

Yaacob, who sat with Hadhariah Syed Ismail and Nordin Hassan, also said MACC had not filed affidavits to rebut the respondents’ stand that they had the means to return the money should the Court of Appeal reverse the findings of the High Court.

Appeal has been fixed on Aug 25.

Earlier, deputy public prosecutor Roslan Mat Nor said the stay pending the appeal should be allowed on grounds of public interest as the 1MDB money was actually public funds.

“There is no guarantee that the four will return it should we succeed in the appeal,” he said.

However, Umno lawyer Hariharan Tara Singh said MACC’s fears were unfounded as Umno was solvent.

“Umno owns the PWTC building which itself is worth RM450 million,” he said. “We have assets in excess of liabilities.”

The counsel for the three other respondents also took a similar stand.

On June 19, the respondents succeeded in getting back the RM194 million seized after the High Court dismissed the government’s application for a stay.

MACC froze their bank accounts to forfeit the money allegedly received from former prime minister Najib Razak, linked to the 1MDB scandal.

High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan had earlier dismissed the prosecution’s application to stay the return of the funds.

In February, Zaini dismissed the prosecution’s application to forfeit the money after ruling that the funds were not from unlawful proceeds sourced from 1MDB.

The forfeiture application against Umno involved RM192,965,413.61 while the application against MCA’s women’s wing involved RM300,000.

The applications against Perano Sdn Bhd, which sells hijabs, and Binsabi Sdn Bhd, which supplies tents, involved RM337,634.78 and RM827,250 respectively.

They too were alleged to have received the money from Najib.

The government filed the forfeiture applications against the four entities under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.

Hariharan later told reporters that he hoped CIMB Bank would unfreeze Umno’s account following today’s ruling.

“I hope the bank’s lawyer who was in court today will advise them accordingly,” he said, adding that the money had been frozen since May 28 last year.

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