KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 8 — The Malaysian government today failed to forfeit assets it believes were bought with 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) money that had been seized in 2018 from former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and their children.
High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan said he found serious gaps in the elaboration of events and the documents tendered in support of the allegations after considering the numerous affidavits filed by the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC).
He had earlier highlighted the AGC’s need to prove first that the unlawful activities were committed, before the court proceeded to consider whether the properties sought to be forfeited were proceeds from said unlawful activities alleged against Najib and the entities concerned.
“The applicant had through various affidavits merely disclosed the movements of monies deposited into and transferred out of the first respondent’s bank accounts and other entities concerned,” the judge said in his ruling.
The first respondent refers to Najib.
“It is insufficient to just set out the movement of monies to prove the offence.
“No doubt the huge amount of monies that went into the first respondent’s bank account and monies taken out raises a big question mark but the courts do not find guilt based on perceptions or suspicions.
“The applicant have therefore failed to satisfy the necessary ingredients of Section 409 and Section 411 of the Penal Code in this application.
“There would not be any proceeds of unlawful activities if the predicate offences have not been proven,” he added.
However, the judge also said his ruling is strictly confined to this application and no other. He noted that the 1MDB trial is ongoing.
“The failure of the applicant to prove the predicate offence allegely commited by the first respondent and the other entities concerned should not be construed to mean the first respondent and the other entities are not culpable for the alleged shenanigans of 1MDB,” the judge said.
Mohamed Zaini also said it was understandably difficult for the applicant to prove the predicate offence allegedly committed by Najib and the other entities since it could only adduce affidavits by the investigating officers assigned.
“The transaction and documents relating to the affairs of 1MDB are by no means a simple matter. It would require the production of voluminous documents and many relevant witnesses to attest to the affairs of 1MDB,” he said.
For example, Mohamed Zaini said evidence by various personnel of 1MDB was clearly absent and that the investigating officers had in their affidavits merely come to the conclusion based on insufficient evidence.
In his ruling on the luxury items seized from Najib and his family, Mohamed Zaini said there were no credible attempts made to show the nexus between the properties seized and the unlawful activities.
“No evidence has been proffered to show that the properties seized were bought using the monies in the first respondent’s bank accounts.
“The applicant had in fact admitted that some of the properties seized were gifts.
“The applicant merely listed down the properties seized and their value and, in turn, concluded that the respondents (Najib, Rosmah and their children) did not have the means to own such items based on their income.
“It is apparent that the applicant came to this conclusion based on presumption. This is insufficient as they need to credibly prove a direct link between the money that was gained illegally to the cash found as well as the items bought,” he said.
The court, however, allowed the government’s bid to forfeit the assets from eight of the 18 respondents named who did not contest the application.
Deputy public prosecutor Harris Ong Mohd Jeffery Ong informed the court that an appeal will be made against the ruling.
On May 8, 2019, the AGC filed a notice of motion to forfeit hundreds of items, allegedly linked to 1MDB scandal, including handbags of various brands and 27 vehicles seized from Najib, Rosmah, their three children, as well as 13 individuals and companies.
Also, money amounting to more than RM18 million in several bank accounts at Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd, Al-Rajhi Bank Bhd, Malayan Banking Bhd, CIMB Bank Bhd, RHB Bank Bhd, Public Bank Bhd, AmBank Bhd and Hong Leong Bank Bhd, that was frozen between August 16, 2018 and March 11, 2019.
In the forfeiture notice, the prosecution named Najib, Rosmah, their children Nor Ashman Razak, Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz (Najib’s stepdaughter) and Nooryana Najwa; Mohd Kyizzad Mesran; Senijauhar Sdn Bhd; Aiman Ruslan; Yayasan Rakyat 1Malaysia; Yayasan Semesta; Mustika Kasih Foundation; Rembulan Kembara Sdn Bhd; Goh Gaik Ewe; Roger Ng Chong Hwa (former Goldman Sachs bank officer) and wife Lim Hwee Bin; Kee Kok Thiam, Tan Vern Tact and Geh Choh Hun as the first to 18th respondent.
Among the items mentioned in the notice are handbags, shoes and watches of various brands, as well as cash in various currencies.
These items were all seized by the police in 2018 on several different dates starting from May 17.
The police also seized 27 Nissan vehicles on August 2 the same year, as well as a piece of land in Tanjung Bungah, Penang.
MORE TO COME