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Court dismisses bid to forfeit over RM1 mln from Kedah Umno, Habib Jewels

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KUALA LUMPUR — Dec. 13, 2019: The High Court today dismissed an application to forfeit RM1.15 million from Kedah Umno and Habib Jewels related to 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

Kedah Umno had received RM1.05 million from former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Habib Jewels RM100,000. Justice Mohd. Nazlan Mohd. Ghazali dismissed the application on the ground that the prosecution had failed to prove its civil forfeiture cases.

For Kedah Umno it should be highlighted that six cheques issued by Najib totalled RM15 million paid between 2012 and 2013, pointed out Nazlan.

The application relates to the balance in the account which was frozen and later seized in June last year, which was RM1,054,019.22. Affidavit evidence however showed that of the six, the last payment of RM1 million was in June 2013 while the end balance as of June 30, 2013, was only about RM1.4 million, said Nazlan.

By then the bulk of the RM15 million had left the account and the balance had, over time, declined to a low of RM58,000 on January 1, 2017.

Furthermore, in the first four months of 2018 alone, which was just before the 14th general election, more than RM27 million was deposited into the respondent’s account via 44 transactions and during the same period, some RM26 million was paid out in 203 transactions.

“In short, in my view, it cannot be said that the sum of slightly more RM1 million now remaining in the account and intended to be forfeited by the public prosecutor constitutes part of the RM15 million paid by Najib a few years ago, given the very high number of deposits and withdrawals, and taking into consideration the balance sum recorded during the period after the deposit of RM15 million in 2013 and the seizure of the account in 2018,” he said.

Even if it was assumed that the RM15 million was proceeds of unlawful activity, on a balance of probability it could not be said that the sum in the account now sought to be forfeited was an evidence or subject matter relating to an offence or that it was proceeds of an unlawful activity.

In the case of Habib Jewels, Nazlan noted that the money received for the purchase of jewellery was done in good faith in the ordinary course of business.

“The public prosecutor did not dispute this sale transaction, there is also no allegation of collusion or any form of wrongdoing by the prosecutor against the respondent,” he said.

MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya had said that the agency had filed forfeiture suits against 41 respondents to recover about RM270 million linked to 1MDB, adding that it was in accordance with the Anti-Money Laundering Act because the MACC saw it as money transferred from Najib’s account.

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