Bersatu granted bid to challenge freezing of accounts, Muhyiddin’s travel ban

The Kuala Lumpur High Court says the party has satisfied the legal requirements to give its judicial review application a full hearing.

(FMT) – The High Court here has allowed Bersatu to challenge a freezing order imposed by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on the party’s accounts and the travel ban placed on party president Muhyiddin Yassin.

Justice Ahmad Kamal Shahid, who granted Bersatu leave to pursue a judicial review application, said the party had satisfied the legal requirements for the court to hear its application at a full hearing.

Bersatu filed an application in March seeking leave to challenge the freezing of the party’s bank accounts. It claimed the order was made in bad faith.

Muhyiddin had previously claimed the travel ban was wrongly imposed on him and that he was not notified of it.

The former prime minister also said the ban was aimed at tarnishing his reputation and made it seem as if he had committed a crime and was seeking to abscond.

In granting leave, Kamal said Bersatu’s application to challenge the freezing order was neither frivolous nor vexatious.

“There is a triable issue that warrants a hearing of the substantive motion,” he added.

On Muhyiddin’s travel ban, Kamal said the Bersatu president was not told why he was barred from leaving the country.

He added that the subsequent lifting of the ban did not render the challenge academic.

“The travel ban also has an element of public interest which demands that the court look into the matter substantively as the second applicant (Muhyiddin) is a former prime minister and has a certain standing in the country,” Kamal said.

However, the court did not grant Bersatu’s application for interim access to its frozen accounts.

Bersatu had sought access to its accounts as the party wanted to use the money to pay for its daily operations and rent.

Kamal said only enforcement agencies have the authority to allow interim access to the accounts. He added that a prior application for access to the funds had been rejected by the enforcement agency.

“It is my considered opinion that the release of money which is, or could be connected, with the money laundering offence cannot be permitted.

“The purpose of the freezing order is to preserve the assets or money suspected of (flowing from) criminal activities, and its release will frustrate the purpose of the freezing order,” he said.

Immediately following the decision, Bersatu’s lawyer Rosli Dahlan told the court the party has filed another application for judicial review against MACC over the agency’s action in seizing the party’s bank accounts.

He said MACC issued a statement last month saying that the government had seized the accounts, but the party did not receive the relevant documents.

“Can we request for the accounts’ seizure case to be heard before this court together with this judicial review application?” Rosli asked.

In response, Kamal said that he cannot direct the court’s registrar to transfer cases to the court in which he presides as that would attract “criticism”.

“I take note of your second application,” he said.