KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 3 — The 21 individuals currently sought by the police over 39 cheating and criminal breach of trust cases involving some RM30.4 million can no longer be called “lawyers”, Malaysian Bar president Datuk Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor said today.
Abdul Fareed said the Bar does not know the identity of the individuals involved but said as the Disciplinary Board has done due diligence after receiving complaints from their clients, the police have the right to divulge their identities as suspects in criminal cases.
“They can no longer be called lawyers. Only those in law professions are allowed to receive monies from or for their clients as stakeholder that needs to be held in a trust account and the monies could only be released for the purpose that they received,” said Abdul Fareed in a brief statement to Malay Mail.
“The police have a right to divulge their identities for the purpose of investigations if they can’t be contacted, as other criminal cases,” he added.
Abdul Fareed said the Bar has set standards so that lawyers have integrity and are trustworthy.
He also reminded the public to conduct background checks to confirm the identity of lawyers before appointing any to represent them in a case.
“Before anyone was approved as a lawyer, the Bar will run ethics course and a part of the course will touch on the role of a lawyer in handling a trust account.
“A lawyer must have integrity and always be trustworthy in their jobs,” he said.
Earlier today, Bukit Aman Commercial Crimes Investigation Department director Datuk Seri Mohd Zakaria Ahmad said the police are looking for 21 lawyers who are involved in several criminal breach of trust cases involving more than RM30 million between 2012 and 2019.
Eight of them were set to be charged with the crimes while the rest are needed to facilitate investigations.
He said that according to the Immigration Department, five have fled Malaysia, while the remaining 16 are still believed to be in the country; however, they can’t be traced by the authorities.
It was reported that many of the lawyers, aged between 34 and 69, handled property purchases for their clients.
Among those wanted by the police are Michael Persius Ubu, who was reportedly under investigation last year, along with Warisan vice-president Peter Anthony, over a land deal in Sabah worth RM155 million.