Listen before bed to calm the emotions . . .
Former AG Tommy Thomas “agreeing in principle” does not mean the accused can retain over 60 per cent of the monies he allegedly stole from 1MDB.
AG’s deal with accused risks being party to illegalities, creates a dangerous precedent.
Risk being party to illegalities — read public perceptions decide — means coming into odium, public ridicule, contempt and public disrepute.
There must not be even the slightest hint of public suspicion.
The Riza Aziz settlement would be “acceptable” if the gov’t got 95 per cent of the money back. One issue is the allegedly stolen assets are parked overseas.
If 100 per cent return was demanded, the accused would prefer to go ahead with the criminal case in Malaysia, pay a fine if convicted and go to jail.
DoJ in the US would have mounted a civil action in court to freeze, seize and forfeit assets related to money laundering.
Money laundering is defined in international law as having assets far in excess of what could be legitimately accumulated over a lifetime.
If the DoJ civil action was challenged, criminal suits would be instituted.
Riza Aziz’ case was criminal.
PP v RIZA SHAHRIZ BIN ABDUL AZIZ
1. Riza Shahriz Bin Abdul Aziz (“Riza Aziz”) was charged with five (5) money laundering offences punishable under Section 4(1) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001 (Act 613) for receiving proceeds of an unlawful activity, totalling
USD248,173,104.00 linked to 1MDB between April 2011 and November 2012.
2. Since the filing of the charges, Riza Aziz has made several representations to this Chambers through his Solicitors, Messrs
Scivetti & Associates. I am made to understand that the chronology of
correspondence between AGC/MACC and Riza Aziz’s Solicitors, before my appointment as Attorney General, is as follows:
a. 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;
ii. 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
iii. 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 in principle.
This paved the way for further negotiations and planning of the mechanism to be adopted, to take place.
b. On 11th March 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 (5) money laundering charges would remain.
This was then presented to me after I had been made aware of Tan Sri Thomas’ earlier position.
Having been briefed by the Deputy Public Prosecutors in charge of the matter, I shared the views of my predecessor as had been informed to me, and agreed to accept the offer that was made by Riza Aziz subject to his strict compliance with the terms and conditions.
c. On 16th April 2020, the MACC replied to the Solicitors essentially stating that the Public Prosecutor was willing to apply for a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) on all five (5) charges subject to Riza Aziz taking steps to ensure that the monies and properties seized be transferred to the Government of Malaysia, and to pay a compound pursuant to section 92 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001.
d. On 21st April 2020, the MACC wrote to the Solicitors instructing Riza Aziz to relinquish his rights, title and interest in another asset
identified as the “Metropolis Poster” being a one-framed, 3-sheet color lithograph poster created by the German artist Heinz Schulz-
Neudamm for the 1927 silent film “Metropolis”.
e. On 13th May 2020, the MACC again wrote to the Solicitors instructing Riza Aziz to transfer USD14,087,072.76 held in an escrow account at Huntington National Bank, USA to the
Government of Malaysia.
3. With this arrangement, the Government of Malaysia is expected to recover approximately USD108 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. This is in addition to the USD57,036,688.68 which was forfeited earlier in April 2019 from Red Granite Pictures, a company co-owned by Riza
Aziz, the funds of which are traceable to 1MDB.
4. These arrangements are part of the Government’s ongoing efforts to recover assets related to 1MDB. I have been informed that negotiations with several parties in the past year, especially in relation to assets located overseas, had resulted in the successful recovery and repatriation of monies which will reduce the Government’s burden in repaying 1MDB’s debts.
Such negotiations have been complex, requiring close cooperation with authorities abroad, and are continuing.
Tan Sri Idrus Bin Harun
Attorney General / Public Prosecutor
17 May 2020
JABATAN PEGUAM NEGARA, MALAYSIA
(ATTORNEY-GENERAL’S CHAMBERS, MALAYSIA)
NO.45, PERSIARAN PERDANA, PRESINT 4
PUSAT PENTADBIRAN KERAJAAN PERSEKUTUAN
Tel. : 03 – 8872 2000
Faks : 03 – 8890 5609
Web : http://www.agc.gov.my
Read further here . . .
The Riza Aziz settlement would be “acceptable” if the gov’t got 95 per cent of the money back.
That’s what the DoJ in the US would have done via civil action in court.
Riza Aziz’ case was criminal.
The following statement was released by former Attorney General Tommy Thomas . . .
I am compelled to issue this statement because my name has been wrongly and unfairly dragged into the Riza Aziz case . . .
Read further here . . .
Najib can offer to ‘return’ RM22.5 million for DNA (discharged and acquitted), he allegedly stole RM43 million.
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