JOHOR BARU, Sept 20 — The High Court here has fixed November 7 to decide whether to call former Johor executive councillor (exco) Datuk Abd Latif Bandi, his son and a real estate consultant to enter their defence or acquit them on 37 counts of corruption and money laundering charges amounting to over RM35 million four years ago.
Judge Datuk Abu Bakar Katar made the decision after hearing arguments from both the prosecution, led by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) deputy director Wan Shahruddin Wan Ladin, and the defence, led by lawyer Datuk Salehuddin Saidin, during the appeal proceedings, which lasted two days.
On June 14, 2017, Abdul Latif, 55, who is also a former state housing and local government chairman, his son, Ahmad Fauzan Hatim, 29, and real estate consultant Amir Shariffuddin Abd Raub, 48, were charged with 33 counts of corruption and four counts of money laundering totalling RM35.7 million.
On April 21, 2019, Sessions Court Judge Kamarudin Kamsun ordered Abd Latif, who is also a former Endau assemblyman, Ahmad Fauzan and Amir Shariffuddin to be acquitted and released after finding that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case.
Of the charges, 33 were under Section 28(1)(C) of the MACC Act 2009, and four under Section 32(8)(c) and Section 89 of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.
Earlier, in his argument, Wan Shaharuddin said the Sessions Court Judge had erred in his decision to free and acquit Abd Latif and the two other respondents in 2019.
“The judge (Sessions Court) did not examine crucial evidence in his judgment, including the defence’s explanation in which they conceded that the second respondent (Abd Latif) had received the money.
“What counts is whether or not the money is a bribe. Even, the second respondent did not dispute receiving the funds.
“The second respondent stated that the money was a loan from the first respondent (Amir Shariffuddin), while the money came from a housing developer in the state who wanted to lift the Bumiputera status on their property, where the second respondent, as state housing committee chairman at the time, had the power to approve the status removal,” he argued.
He added that if the circumstances of the cases were taken into account, Abd Latif was in cahoots with Amir Shariffuddin, and the prosecution did not have to prove that Abd Latif received the money.
“However, what we need to prove is the existence of a criminal conspiracy whereby the first respondent has received help from the second respondent to commit the offence,” he said. — Bernama