KUALA LUMPUR — May 17, 2020: Former attorney-general Tan Sri Tommy Thomas had in principle agreed to the terms of settlement with Riza Abdul Aziz over money laundering charges linked to 1MDB.
Thomas’ successor Tan Sri Idrus Harun said in a statement today that he has acted on the advice regarding his predecessor’s position on the case.
Idrus took office in March after Thomas resigned a month earlier. Thomas had disputed a statement by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission that he had agreed with the settlement while in office.
Riza, who is the stepson of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, was on May 14 given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal by a Sessions Court on five counts of money laundering.
Idrus said he was advised that Thomas, after perusing a letter of representation by Riza’s solicitors dated last November 18, had sought the views of prosecutor Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram.
Thomas had said that based on the proposals outlined by Riza’s solicitors, he was prepared to consider the representation.
“I have been further advised that Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, in consultation with the then MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya, suggested that the proposals laid down in the letter of representation be accepted by MACC.
“I have also been advised that Tan Sri Tommy Thomas had agreed to the suggestion in principle. This paved the way for further negotiations and planning of the mechanism to be adopted to take place,” said Idrus.
The letter of representation by Riza’s solicitors had sought for a review of the criminal charges against their client by proposing among others that the properties and monies seized from Riza be forfeited to the government.
“On March 11, 2020, the solicitors sent another letter of representation fortifying the earlier proposal and undertook that, should Riza Aziz fail to comply with the terms and conditions, the original five money laundering charges would remain.
“This was then presented to me after I had been made aware of Tan Sri Thomas’ earlier position.”
Idrus added that he shared the views of Thomas and agreed to accept the offer by Riza, subject to strict compliance with the terms and conditions.
On April 16, the MACC replied to the solicitors, essentially stating that the public prosecutor was willing to apply for a discharge not amounting to an acquittal on all five charges.
This was subject to Riza taking steps to ensure that the monies and properties seized be transferred to the government and to pay a compound.
On April 21, the MACC again wrote to the solicitors instructing Riza to relinquish his rights, title and interest in another asset identified as the Metropolis Poster.
On May 13, the MACC wrote to the solicitors instructing Riza to transfer US$14,087,072.76 (RM61.3million) held in an escrow account at Huntington National Bank to the government.
Idrus said with the arrangement, the government is expected to recover approximately US$108 million (RM469.9 million) (subject to the eventual sale proceeds of the assets and deduction of the associated costs thereof) to be credited into the 1MDB Asset Recovery Trust Account.
It is in addition to the US$57,036,688.68 which was forfeited in April 2019 from Red Granite Pictures, a company co-owned by Riza, the funds of which are traceable to 1MDB.
Idrus added that the arrangements were part of the government’s ongoing efforts to recover assets related to 1MDB.