KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 10 — A senior lawyer has branded a news report implicating him in an alleged collusion with an official from the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) to get his client discharged as baseless, and published without digesting the full facts of the matter.
Datuk K. Kumaraendran, who was named in The Edge Financial Daily’s report which highlighted a police report by a land developer against a former senior official in the AGC, also called the report an attack on “certain senior AGC officials”.
“These series of attacks to the AGC is believed to be made in a concerted manner. and to bring disrepute to the AGC and the administration of justice,” he told Malay Mail.
The financial daily had yesterday reported that the land developer accused then solicitor-general III Datuk Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria of possible abuse of power, for allegedly getting the prosecution to drop cheating and embezzlement charges against Kumaraendran’s client.
However, Kumaraendran, who led the defence team, told Malay Mail that he had acted within the provisions of the law, bearing in mind the interest of the judiciary, and his client, senior lawyer Steven How.
“The report that The Edge has done is without being fully aware of the facts of the case. My client retained me, together with another lawyer, Datuk C. Vignesh Kumar, to handle this case, on a charge of Section 420 of the Penal Code. The prosecution served all the documents under Section 51 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
“Now having received these documents, and before the trial commenced, I, on the instruction of my client, wrote a letter to the AGC to consider withdrawing the charge against my client, Steven How,” Kumaraendran said.
He said that he wrote the letter of representation to the AGC, claiming that this was done after the prosecution was unable to adduce evidence to sustain the charge brought against How. It was, however, rejected.
“Then, I wrote another letter of representation in view of the evidence adduced in the trial. I sought for my client to be discharged not amounting to acquittal. It was rejected. The case went on, and as the evidence unfolded, we found there were some contradictions as to the evidence given in court,” he said.
He said that his team later found out that the prosecution had failed to prove evidence of wrongdoing, which was when they wrote a third letter of representation to the AGC, requesting that the charge be withdrawn and prosecution dropped, in the interest of the judiciary’s time.
He said that the last attempt was successful, but the deputy public prosecutor wanted to, instead, apply for a discharge not amounting to acquittal.
He also explained there is nothing sinister or extraordinary about their application, saying it was necessary to not waste judicial time.
The Edge had published its report yesterday, based on a police report lodged by a Datuk Azizi Yom Ahmad in which he alleged that Hanafiah had colluded with the defence counsel to obtain a discharge for How.
The report said that in the case which commenced in 2016, How was accused of cheating and embezzling RM9.056 million from Azizi, who was his client. The amount was reportedly meant as a deposit for a land acquisition deal worth RM60 million.
According to The Edge, Azizi had in his report dated May 4, claimed that he was induced into depositing the RM9.056 million with law firm Kumar Jaspal Quah & Aishah, where How was a partner.
The land deal eventually fell through, but the money cash, however, was never returned to Azizi.
The Edge reported that after a hearing of about two and a half years, with 18 prosecution witnesses called, the DPP Muhammad Ilhami Ahmad then informed the court that the prosecution wanted to withdraw the charges against How, requesting the court to grant a discharge not amounting to an acquittal, after the representation letter sent by How’s team.
Azizi, however, reportedly raised alarm over a possible case of power abuse when the representation was eventually accepted by the AGC, claiming that it was Hanafiah who approved the final representation letter sent by Kumaraendran’s team.
Malay Mail had also contacted Hanafiah for comment, but as of time of writing, had not received his reply.
Early this month, Hanafiah was transferred to the Judicial and Legal Training Institute (ILKAP), and currently serves as a senior research officer there.