KUALA LUMPUR: The sessions court’s conviction of former Sabah infrastructure development minister Peter Anthony is unsafe and must be set aside as the prosecution has failed to prove the charge of forgery brought against him beyond reasonable doubt, the High Court here heard.
Peter’s lawyer, S Devanathan, said the prosecution had failed to prove that the Melalap assemblyman had falsified a letter of support from the office of the deputy vice-chancellor of Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS).
“There are material gaps in the prosecution’s case,” the lawyer contended.
Devanathan said there was no evidence to show that Peter was responsible for inserting any false information to the letter which was addressed to then prime minister and finance minister Najib Razak in a bid to secure a RM25 million contract for system maintenance work.
The lawyer was submitting in Peter’s appeal to set aside his conviction and three-year jail term after he was found guilty of the offence by the sessions court on May 26 last year.
Sessions court judge Azura Alwi also imposed a fine of RM50,000, which he has since paid.
In her decision, Azura had ruled that Peter’s defence was nothing more than a bare denial and an afterthought.
Devanandan, who was assisted by D Khavenesh, told Justice Ahmad Bache today that the charge was “an exercise in futility” as investigations conducted by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission were “shoddy”.
He said the forgery charge could stick only if Peter was shown to have signed the document.
The prosecution said Peter, who was the managing director of Asli Jati Engineering Sdn Bhd at the time, had prepared the letter of support in order to secure the project despite knowing that it had already been awarded to another company via open tender.
Peter is alleged to have added a title to the letter before it was handed over on June 13, 2014, to Azlin Alias, Najib’s principal private secretary at the time.
Deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin submitted that the prosecution had sufficiently proved its case by presenting strong circumstantial evidence based on Peter’s conduct.
“He went all out to get the project through deception although he knew another company (REMT Utama Sdn Bhd) had won it,” he added.
Wan Shaharuddin, who was assisted by Haresh Prakash Somiah, said Peter had admitted under cross-examination that there was no legitimate way he could take over the project since it had already been awarded to another party.
“He dishonestly concealed that fact as he did not tell Azlin the project had already been given to another company when handing over the letter,” he added.
The charge against Peter was framed under Section 468 of the Penal Code, which involved forging a document for the purpose of cheating, and provides for imprisonment of up to seven years and a fine upon conviction.
Peter, 52, was found by the sessions court to have forged a letter dated June 9, 2014, by inserting a false statement with the intention of using it for fraudulent purposes.
The offence was committed at the office of the principal private secretary to the prime minister at the Perdana Putra building in Putrajaya between June 13 and Aug 21, 2014.
Ahmad will deliver his ruling in the appeal on April 18.