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KUALA LUMPUR, March 2 — The lawyer for Sarawak Report has confirmed receiving a RM1.42 million cheque as settlement of PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang's civil suit against the news portal.
The Star reported Americk Sidhu as saying he banked in the exact cheque into Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown's account, and that the money was held in escrow until both parties resolved all the prerequisites.
“Once the preliminaries were fulfilled, only then was I permitted to release the money to Clare,” he told the daily when contacted yesterday.
Sidhu dismissed the allegations that the Bank Islam account is a false one, adding that if both it and the cheque was a fake it would never have been cleared.
He said on January 24 the cheque was provided by a third party, but post-dated to January 31, which he banked into Rewcastle-Brown's account several days later. Subsequently she instructed Sidhu to transfer the funds to her London bank account.
“But Maybank said it was Bank Negara Malaysia's regulations to specify reasons for transferring the money abroad.
“Although we produced the court order, there was no mention of the cost in it, so Clare had to personally write to the bank on February 19,” he said.
Sidhu defended his client, saying she did not breach the out-of-court settlement confidentiality agreement as she said she had no comment to several news agencies who approached her on the matter shortly after PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim revealed the fact.
Rather, he pointed out PAS secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan had denied that funds were paid to settle the case, which he said left Rewcastle-Brown no choice but to defend herself.
Yesterday, PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli said he has discovered the identity of the Bank Islam account owner, adding the 10 digits of the account as revealed by Rewcastle-Brown was only a part of the actual 14 digit number, despite denials by the PAS leadership who insist the account is a “fake”.