Government fails to forfeit RM114 mln

Najib (third right) leaving Court Complex in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: The government failed in its application to forfeit RM114 million, allegedly belonging to Umno and former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak that was seized from a premises belonging to Obyu Holdings Sdn Bhd.

This followed a decision by High Court Judge Datuk Muhammad Jamil Hussin in dismissing the application by the prosecution to forfeit the money that was seized by the police at Pavilion Residence on  May 17, 2018.

In dismissing the application, Muhammad Jamil said the applicant failed to prove that the money, amounting to RM114,164,393.44, was proceeds from money laundering.

However, he made no order for the money, which is with Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), to be returned to the owners.

Umno and Najib are third party claimants to the monies. Any third party claiming to have an interest in property seized by the government is required to appear in court to present reasons why it should not be forfeited by the government.

In 2019, the prosecution filed a forfeiture application against Obyu Holdings to forfeit the money, as well as 11,991 units of jewellery, 401 watches and 16 watch accessories, 234 pairs of spectacles and 306 handbags.

The money and jewellery were seized by the authorities for allegedly being linked to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund scandal.

In his decision, Muhammad Jamil said the investigating officer in the money laundering case, ACP D. Rajagopal, failed to show that the money seized was stolen property or the result of breach of trust or fraud.

“ACP Rajagopal failed to disclose and identify the person/s who had been entrusted with the 1MDB’s money, who had dominant control over the money and misused the funds, besides failing to explain that Najib was the 1MDB agent,” he added.

He said the court found that the applicant had failed to prove the link between the money in Najib’s Ambank account and the money that was seized.

The prosecution’s argument that Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazir Tun Razak had cashed a check drawn from Najib’s account and returned RM20 million to Najib was not true, he added.

“There was also no evidence that the RM20 million received by Najib was part of the money seized. True, the money seized was found in Pavilion Residences, along with the other assets that were seized.

“Najib had also explained that he transferred RM160 million (actual amount) from Seri Perdana to Pavilion Residences.

“On the balance of probabilities, the applicant failed to prove the seized money was linked to money laundering or proceeds from unlawful activities, involving criminal breach of trust and stolen property.

“Therefore, the applicant’s application is dismissed,” said the judge.

After Muhammad Jamil delivered the verdict, deputy public prosecutor Muhammad Saifuddin Hashim Musaimi then asked on the status of money and if there was an order for the money to be returned (to Umno and Najib).

He also applied for a stay of today’s decision, saying that the prosecution would appeal against the decision to the Court of Appeal.

However, Muhammad Jamil rejected the prosecution’s request and on the status of the money, said, “To me, where the money was seized, is where it should be returned”.

Meanwhile, Najib’s lawyer, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, when met by reporters, said he would submit a letter to the prosecution within the next 24 hours for the money to be released to Najib and Umno. – Bernama