Tommy Thomas ‘agreeing in principle’ does not mean accused can retain over 60 pc of monies he allegedly stole from 1MDB

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.

MEDIA RELEASE

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
62100 PUTRAJAYA
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 . . .

MEDIA RELEASE

I am compelled to issue this statement because my name has been wrongly and unfairly dragged into the Riza Aziz case . . .

Read further here . . .

https://fernzthegreat.wordpress.com/2020/05/16/based-on-riza-aziz-settlement-najibs-src-international-case-will-probably-be-settled-out-of-court/

Najib can offer to ‘return’ RM22.5 million for DNA (discharged and acquitted), he allegedly stole RM43 million.

Some parties allegedly ‘stole’ RM4b from KWAP through SRC.

Author: fernzthegreat

Joe Fernandez holds a honours degree in management, majoring in economics, and has opted from academia in law to being a jurist. He was trained professionally on the job as a journalist. He's a longtime Borneo watcher, keen on the history and legal aspects of Malaya's presence in Sabah and Sarawak. He teaches the English language privately and has emerged as a subject matter expert in public examination techniques.

5 thoughts on “Tommy Thomas ‘agreeing in principle’ does not mean accused can retain over 60 pc of monies he allegedly stole from 1MDB”

  1. TS Tommy Thomas’s response to the AG

    1. As I have been mentioned on numerous occasions in the media release issued yesterday by my successor, Tan Sri Idrus bin Harun, I have to put the record straight a second time.

    2. I took into account the benefits of the AMLA Act 2001 when I decided to charge Riza Aziz in July 2019 with 5 money laundering offences punishable under Section 4(1) of that Act for receiving proceeds of unlawful activities, between April 2011 and November 2012, totalling USD248 million of monies belonging to 1MDB. I was satisfied that the prosecution had a very strong case to establish the ingredients of the offences. The documentary trail was substantial and highly credible. Upon conviction, the prosecution would have invited the trial judge to impose a sentence commensurate with the severity of the offences, the maximum being 15 years for each charge. But more significantly, the criminal court is given power by Parliament to additionally impose a penalty up to 5 times the amount involved in the unlawful activities, that is 5 times USD248 million, which would work out to some USD1.2 billion. We would have sought this sum upon his conviction.

    3. As Public Prosecutor, I personally decided to prosecute about 25 cases. In each of these cases, I was briefed by MACC or the police and DPPs. I probed deeply. My decision-making process took time. From my trial experience, evidence gathering continues from initiation of proceedings until completion of trial. Only when I was satisfied that the prosecution could secure a conviction, did I make the decision to prosecute. It was always a deliberate and properly analysed decision. That same rigour was brought to the decision to prosecute Riza. In none of these 25 odd cases, did I consider favourably a request by any accused to settle on such terribly poor terms to the prosecution. That would have called into question the wisdom and integrity of my decision to prosecute in the first place.

    4. In paragraph 2 of Tan Sri Idrus’s media release, reference is made to a minute I made on 19 November 2019 to Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram on the letter dated 18 November 2019 from Riza’s solicitors. That indeed was my style. After having read that letter, I wrote a couple of words or sentences to him. I have no access to the original letter with my handwriting. Because of this handicap, I cannot comment on it.

    5. What is abundantly clear is that I did not make any decision in relation to Riza’s representation up to the date of my resignation, 28 February 2020. A decision of this importance involving billions of ringgit and significant public interest would be made by me in writing. I did not, and none exist.

    6. With regard to communications with the 2 major actors, my successor and Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, the position is as follows. I have not communicated with Tan Sri Idrus since 28 February 2020. This is not unusual. I did not communicate with my predecessor during my tenure. I spoke on a couple of occasions with Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram over the telephone between 28 February and 14 May 2020, but this subject was never raised by him. Hence after my resignation, I was kept in the dark on this and all other matters.

    7. In Paragraph 3 of the media release, Tan Sri Idrus states that “Malaysia is expected to recover approximately USD108 million”. With the greatest of respect, this is a red herring. By personal diplomacy, we established strong relations with DOJ after I took office. They have returned billions of ringgit, and more monies may be released in future by DOJ. The purpose of prosecuting Riza was not to strengthen our chances of securing monies from DOJ. DOJ would have returned these monies in any event because it belongs to Malaysia and was stolen from Malaysia. Riza is not offering to pay any new money or monies from any source other than DOJ seized assets. The USD108 million, would in any event be returned by DOJ to Malaysia. Thus, Riza is unnecessarily getting credit for returning monies that are not his. Hence, it is a sweetheart deal for Riza but terrible for Malaysia.

    8. Finally, even the timing of Riza’s DNAA is bizarre. In both civil and criminal proceedings which proceed to trial, a plaintiff or the prosecution loses substantial leverage over the adverse party if it withdraws court proceeding before the terms of settlement are completely performed. This is elementary. Hence, one needs to question why Riza has been given a DNAA so prematurely.

    9. Since Tan Sri Idrus is at pains to emphasize the weight he gave to my so called ‘agreement in principle’ (which itself is a fiction), let me state publicly that I would have never sanctioned this deal. I would have lost all credibility in the eyes of the people of Malaysia whom I endeavoured to serve as public prosecutor to the best of my ability, honestly and professionally if I had approved it. I would have betrayed the trust the Prime Minister and the PH government had reposed in me.

    Tan Sri Tommy Thomas
    18 May 2020

    Like

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