Court frees 10 over RM12b gold bar scheme

(From left) Chin, defence counsel Datuk Nicholas Kow, Haaziq and Joseph Kow leave the courtroom yesterday. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali
(From left) Chin, defence counsel Datuk Nicholas Kow, Haaziq and Joseph Kow leave the courtroom yesterday. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali

KUALA LUMPUR, April 29 — Five individuals and five companies linked to Genneva Malaysia Sdn Bhd were acquitted by the Sessions Court yesterday of illegal deposit-taking and money-laundering charges involving a total of RM12 billion.

Gold Bullion Entrepreneurs Association of Malaysia secretary-general Datuk Joseph Kow was cleared of money-laundering and abetting in illegal deposit collections for Genneva Malaysia.

The others were Genneva Malaysia adviser Datuk Chin Wai Leong, consultant Alex Yew Soo Hun and two of the company's agents — Chin's wife, Datin Lee Mei Jen, and Kow's wife, Datin Veronica Tan.

The five companies acquitted were J Emerald Sdn Bhd, KHB Global Sdn Bhd, Logistic Hartamas Sdn Bhd, Agensi Pekerjaan AJ Utama Sdn Bhd and Parcel Post Sdn Bhd.

They were among 25 individuals and companies slapped with 1,548 money laundering charges and 14 illegal deposit taking charges under the Banking and Financial Institutions Act (Bafia) 1989.

The other 15 were, however, asked to enter their defence.

The 25 were earlier charged with committing the offences at CIMB Bank Bhd in Jalan Kuchai Lama between January 2011 and December 2012.

Judge Mat Ghani Abdullah found the prosecution had proven a prima facie against the 15 including Genneva Malaysia directors Datuk Tan Liang Keat, Datuk Philip Lim Jit Meng and Ahmad Khairuddin Illias; advisers Ng Poh Weng and Datuk Marcus Yee Yuen Seng; agents Ng Wan Yee, Ng Yee Yaw, Ng Wan Yean, Chiew Soo Ling and Yao Kee Boon; and three other companies, Success Attitude Sdn Bhd, Ng Advantage Sdn Bhd and Genneva Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

Liang Keat, Lim, Ahmad and Ng were called to enter their defence for illegal deposit taking. Yee, Wan Yee, Yee Yaw, Wan Yean, Chiew and Yao were told to enter their defence for money laundering charges.

The 25 were charged with the offences between 2013 and 2014.

Also present in the court room were several depositors, who had invested in Genneva Malaysia and were eager to see the outcome of the trial.

Kow expressed relief when met outside the courtroom.

“For the last two years, my life has been hell. My assets were frozen and I was barred from leaving the country. I am glad it is finally over,” said Kow, who was seen thanking his counsel, Datuk Mohd Haaziq Pillay, repeatedly.

Bank Negara started scrutinising Genneva Malaysia in 2011 following complaints of dubious gold trading and raided the company a year later. The central bank had frozen the company's accounts and other assets worth RM99.8 million. It also seized gold bullions weighing 126kg from the company.

The company was also investigated for breaking several banking and financial laws including money laundering, taking deposits without giving gold in return, evading taxes and misrepresenting itself as an investment firm.