Ex-solicitor-general Hanafiah accused of abuse of power

(The Edge Markets) – A land developer is accusing former solicitor-general III Datuk Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria of possible abuse of power for allegedly getting the prosecution to drop cheating and embezzlement charges against a senior lawyer.

The Edge Financial Daily sighted a police report lodged by Datuk Azizi Yom Ahmad, 70, in which he alleged that Hanafiah had colluded with the defence counsel to obtain a discharge for the lawyer, Steven How Chee Hong.

In the case which started in 2016, How was accused of cheating and embezzling RM9.056 million from his client Azizi. The amount was meant as a deposit for a land acquisition deal worth RM60 million.

Azizi 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 did not go through, but the money was never returned to Azizi.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Muhammad Ilmami Ahmad headed the prosecution in the case, while Datuk K Kumaraendran led the defence team.

After about two and a half years of hearing, and 18 prosecution witnesses called, Muhammad Ilhami told the court that the prosecution wished to withdraw the charges against How, and requested the court for a discharge not amounting to an acquittal, following a representation sent the defence, according to the police report dated May 4.

Azizi raised the concern of a possible abuse of power when the representation was accepted the Attorney-General’s Chambers after it had rejected five representations from the defence counsel previously.

He claimed that the five previous representations were made lead defence counsel Kumaraendran and were rejected the attorney-general, while the representation approved Hanafiah was made Datuk C Vignesh Kumar, another member of the defence team.

Azizi went on to say that after the representation was accepted, Kumaraendran still went to the court on March 5 to apply for a release order for How.

“We find it difficult to understand that the solicitor-general III can accept representation the assistant defence counsel but the principal defence counsel is at the same time actively conducting the trial on behalf of the accused. Something is not right here,” Azizi said in the report.

“When all of the evidence has been presented, we could at least expect the prosecution to allow the court to examine the evidence to reach a fair conclusion as to whether the defence should be called,” he added.

Hanafiah was transferred to ILKAP (Judicial and Legal Training Institute) in Bangi early this month.