CJ says courts getting US training to tackle money laundering, other ‘modern crimes’

Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum (left) and Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong (right) at the opening of the legal year 2019 in Putrajaya January 11, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum (left) and Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong (right) at the opening of the legal year 2019 in Putrajaya January 11, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 11 — The US Department of Justice has been training Malaysian judges and court officials in dealing with “modern crimes” like cryptocurrencies, money laundering, fraud, terrorism and human trafficking, Tan Sri Richard Malanjum said today.

The chief justice said the training was part of efforts to improve the performance of Malaysian courts.

“What are the modern crimes? Money-laundering, cryptocurrencies, fraud, terrorism and human trafficking,” he said in his speech at the launch of the new legal year 2019 here.

Later when asked by reporters, he clarified that the US DoJ’s training on these “modern crimes” was not a recent initiative.

“No, they have been training us since two years ago, long before those cases,” he said when asked if the US DoJ training was due to recent high-profile money-laundering cases such as that involving former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

He said the US training touches on things such as how to handle court hearings and what to expect for these cases of modern crimes, what is cryptocurrency and what kind of evidence is needed.

Asked why the Malaysian judiciary was getting training from the US DoJ, he noted that Malaysians too send their children to study in American universities such as Harvard University.

He also said the US had much experience in these type of cases, noting: “They offered and they have a lot of that kind of cases.”

Earlier in his speech, he said the Judicial Academy under the Judicial Appointment Commission has been carrying out regular in-house training for judges on certain areas of the law, believing it has resulted in some improvement in terms of writing judgments.

“We are also in discussion to invite experienced judges from the UK to share with their experiences in effective case management.

Malanjum had also noted Singapore Chief Justice Sundresh Menon’s kindness in sharing knowledge with the Malaysian judiciary in areas such as effective court administration and new approaches in handling family disputes at the Family Court.

He also thanked the Singapore judiciary for helping to organise a knowledge sharing programme this March, while also thanking the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for helping the courts in the area of public interest litigation.

“The local universities too are assisting in one way or another.

“The results of this training will take time, we must take into account that Putrajaya was not built in one day so the same goes to the training of judges,” he said.

In the same speech, Malanjum said judges make regular assets declarations, adding that the judiciary has now introduced a complaint mechanism through hotlines and social media to receive public complaints and suggestions to improve the courts’ performance.

He said a Judicial Officers’ Code of Ethics has been introduced for court officials such as those in the Sessions Court, magistrates and registrars, akin to the existing code of ethics for judges.

“So hopefully we expect a high standard of behaviour in and out of the courtroom,” he said.

Earlier in a speech at the same event, Malaysian Bar president George Varughese had among other things called on the judiciary to be bold and independent in their decisions, as well as to make it a “standard practice” for all courts to give reasons when delivering judgments.

“Such judgments should at least consist of broad grounds to inform aggrieved parties of the reasons behind their judicial outcomes,” he said.