RM114m seized from Pavilion Residences belongs to Umno, says lawyer

Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court March 11, 2021. — Picture by Yusof Mat isa
Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court March 11, 2021. — Picture by Yusof Mat isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, Mar 15 — The High Court here today heard that the RM114 million in cash seized by police in 2018 from Pavilion Residences belonged to Umno and the prosecution failed to show that the monies had any link with the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund scandal.

Counsel Datuk Hariharan Tara Singh, acting for Umno, submitted that the seized cash was a political donation belonging to the party and that Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had sourced and managed its funds.

“In his (Najib’s) police report and affidavit, he confirmed the money was held in trust for Umno. Thus, we have a legitimate interest in claiming the cash.”

He said this at the hearing before judge Datuk Muhammad Jamil Hussin of the prosecution’s application for forfeiture of RM114,164,393.44 and jewellery seized from a premises owned by Obyu Holdings Sdn Bhd.

In 2019, the prosecution filed the forfeiture application against Obyu Holdings to forfeit the items including 11,991 units of jewellery, 401 watches and 16 watch accessories, 234 pairs of eyewear and 306 handbags, as well as cash in various denominations amounting to RM114,164,393.44.

Umno and Najib were the third party in the application. Any third party who claims to have any interest in items seized could come before the court to show cause as to why these should not be forfeited by the government.

Hariharan argued that the most important and critical evidence that the money-laundering investigation officer must show were documentary evidence such as the bank statements of 1MDB to support that the monies originated from 1MDB or its subsidiaries and those same monies flowed from 1MDB to other entities.

“But the investigation officer failed to do so as there were no bank statements in the affidavit by the applicant (prosecution) to show that the funds came from 1MDB or its subsidiaries. In the absence of these documents, the applicant’s case is entirely unsupported,” the lawyer added.

Najib was the Umno president and Barisan Nasional chairman in 2018. 

Meanwhile, counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah who represented Najib, submitted that his client said the seized money totalled RM160 million.

“Is it a wonder that Datuk Seri Najib said in his police report that RM160 million was actually seized from Pavilion Residences. Now, in this application, there is only RM114million? 

“This is shocking. And if we were to look at the search list of the police, it was completely non-compliance with the Criminal Procedure Code as the police did not state and list the monies seized from Pavilion Residences,” he said.

On March 11, counsel Tania Scivetti who also acted for Umno, submitted that the money-laundering investigation officer, Supt Foo Wei Min in the prosecution’s written submission averred that the cash seized in various denominations amounting to RM114,164,393.44 was the result of 1MDB’s illegal acquisition because the cash was stored in 35 bags in the same place as the jewellery, watches and handbags that were seized by the Commercial Crime Investigation Department’s officers.

“From Supt Foo’s investigation, he concluded that because the cash was found in 35 bags in the same place as the accessories, it had automatic nexus with monies allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB.

“With all due respect, the conclusion of Supt Foo’s investigation is absolutely astonishing and utterly illogical. As such, there is no evidence before this court of the nexus between monies allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB and the cash seized from Pavilion Residences,” Muhammad Shafee said.

The hearing continues on March 29 for the prosecution to reply to Umno and Najib’s submissions. — Bernama

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