The controversy surrounding the decision to discharge film producer Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz over money laundering charges should end with the Attorney General’s statement, says the case’s lead prosecutor.
Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, who led the prosecution against the stepson of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, responded briefly when asked to comment on Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun’s statement on Sunday (May 17).
“Once (the) AG has made a statement, that is the end of the matter,” said the former federal court judge in a text message to The Star.
On Thursday (May 14), Riza was given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal by the Sessions Court here over five counts of money laundering involving US$248mil (RM1.25bil) linked to the controversial 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
Following the court’s decision, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said in a statement that the government was expected to recover overseas assets worth an estimated US$107.3mil (RM465.3mil) following an agreement struck between the prosecution and the accused.
It also said that the agreement, through representation to the authorities, was a decision considered and agreed to by former AG Tan Sri Tommy Thomas.
Thomas, however, denied this in his statement to a news portal.
NB: MEDIA STATEMENT BY AG IDRUS BIN HARUN
……… On 18th November 2019, the Solicitors sent a letter of representation to this Chambers seeking for a review of all five (5) charges against Riza Aziz in the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court. The letter of representation, among others, proposed that Riza Aziz –
i. Surrender his rights in three (3) properties seized by the United States Department of Justice and for Riza Aziz to facilitate the return of the same or its value, to the Government of Malaysia. The properties in question are as follows:
a. One (1) unit of bungalow located in Beverly Hills, California;
b. One (1) unit of apartment located in New York, and
c. One (1) unit of townhouse in London, United Kingdom;
2. Agreeable to have the monies seized from him which form the subject matter in a related matter before the Kuala Lumpur High Court, be forfeited to the Government of Malaysia; and
3. Pay a compound pursuant to section 92 of the Anti- Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001.
I have been advised that my predecessor Tan Sri Tommy Thomas, after perusing the said letter of representation, via a minute dated 19th November 2019 to Senior Deputy Public Prosecutor Dato’ Seri Gopal Sri Ram, sought the views of the latter, and further stated that in light of the proposals outlined above, he is prepared to consider the representation.
I have been further advised that Dato’ Seri Gopal Sri Ram, in consultation with the then Chief Commissioner of MACC, Puan 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 Thomas had agreed to the suggestion [EXCERPT]
It is called ‘closing ranks’ and ‘protecting one’s own’. The new AG has been let down and embarrassed thanks to pressure from the top and a crass remark by a senior law officer.
The result has been a disastrous show of buckpassing and incompetence throughout the Malaysian judicial system as everybody has sought to avoid responsibility for a disgraceful and corrupt deal to get the former PM’s son off the hook over his massive multi-million dollar thefts from the public purse.
The new AG who signed the order must of course take ultimate responsibility. However, all can see (and indeed sympathise over) the impossible pressure he was under from his political bosses. His alternative was to resign and the substitute would probably have been a far worse appointment.
So… ‘someone’ sugared the pill for this reluctant agent of the law by ‘misinforming’ him that his predecessor had OK’d Rosmah’s bargain to give up some of the town houses in NY, London and LA in return for Riz’s freedom and his passport back (plus plenty remaining in the bank).
An equally sheepish MACC boss sought to avoid the blame himself by also referring to the same alleged earlier agreement to the deal by the former AG, which the same set of ‘someones’ must have used on him.
Naturally, the outraged former AG refuted the matter in the strongest terms for what it was – an attempt by the present illegitimate coup coalition to blame its predecessors for the cosy, corrupt bargains it has been making with its key supporters in UMNO to continue to prop up ‘PM8’s’ bogus, untested and unconvincing claim to a majority in Parliament.
The new AG responded that this is what he had been ‘led to believe’.
At which point the piggy in the middle of the whole affair, the veteran prosecutor and former judge Gopal Sri Ram, has tried to rule an end to the matter and save his senior colleague, the present AG (who ought to have queried and investigated the matter thoroughly rather than push it through because of the pressure he was under) from further embarrassment.
Sadly, in a matter this serious, such a solution will not do in a democracy. The public is now rightly aware, thanks to the buck passing remarks of senior officials, that there has been undue pressure on law enforcers and that untoward decisions have been made.
The reason is obvious, which is that there has been an abuse of political power and interference in the justice system to offer favouritism to the step-son of a politician with a criminal record as long as his arm, who is holding the present prime minister to ransom as everyone knew he would.
If this matter is pushed under the carpet, as Gopal Sri Ram would like to see in order to protect his professional colleagues, then there will be no brake whatsoever on a whole string of other exonerations that criminally charged politicians would like to see go through. Rosie will have her private jet on an open booking.
So, despite the headmasterly tone of this revered former judge, telling the prefects to pipe down and get in line, the press and public ought and will continue to probe this matter in the national interest and in favour of good governance at a time when both are under grave threat.
The questions which ought now be answered are:
1) Who lied to the present AG and the head of the MACC that Riza’s deal had been accepted by the previous AG?
2) Who told that person to tell this lie and fix the case?
Without doubt the trail will go back to the controlling orchestrator of the ‘PM8′ desperado coup coalition, Azmin Ali. He will have been petitioned by his longstanding friend Rosmah, who will have reminded him that the present ‘PM8′ relies on the cooperation of her husband’s political party and recognition of the Pahang Sultan, who is the present Agong.
Such corruption and undue influence mongering needs to be flushed out. The electorate showed its rightful disapproval of the Rosmah Regime in GE14 and that is exactly the form of government that has been returned.
As before, the truth must be exposed.