Govt cannot forfeit millions given by Najib, rules Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal has ruled that the government cannot forfeit money channelled to political parties and business entities as the prosecution has failed to prove whether former prime minister Najib Razak was involved in unlawful activities.

(FMT) – Judge Hadhariah Syed Ismail said the investigating officer in an abuse of power case under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act (MACC) merely disclosed the movement of monies transferred out from Najib’s accounts and other entities.

“This averment is insufficient to establish the unlawful activities from which the proceeds allegedly derived,” she said in the oral judgment allowing an appeal by the Pahang Umno liaison committee.

The state Umno had received RM2.5 million from Najib between 2012 and 2013.

The proceedings were conducted virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic and movement control order.

The bench, also consisting of Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil and Abu Bakar Jais, also dismissed the prosecution’s appeal to forfeit money given or paid to Habib Jewels (RM100,000), Kedah Umno (RM1.05 million), Umno headquarters (RM192.6 million), Wanita MCA (RM300,000), Binsabi Sdn Bhd (RM777,250), Perano Sdn Bhd (RM337,734) Hattatex Trading (RM111,590) and K&Z Enterprise Sdn Bhd (RM138,359).

The High Court had, in late 2019 and early last year, dismissed MACC’s forfeiture applications made under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (Amla).

The money seized by MACC was allegedly linked to the 1MDB scandal.

On June 21, 2019, then MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya said the anti-graft body had filed civil forfeiture applications against 41 individuals and entities to recover RM270 million allegedly transferred from Najib’s account.

Latheefa said the forfeiture applications were filed under Section 56 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act. She said the biggest recipients of the money were Umno divisions and branches which had received a total of RM212 million.

Some of the recipients have since returned the money to MACC.

Najib is facing 25 charges of abuse of power and money laundering over alleged 1MDB funds amounting to RM2.28 billion deposited in his AmBank accounts between February 2011 and December 2014.