Malaysia Appeal Court rejects bid by government to forfeit millions of ringgit linked to UMNO, other entities
PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysian government’s attempt at forfeiting millions of ringgit belonging to the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the women’s wing of Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and six other entities, failed after the Court of Appeal dismissed its appeal to reverse the decision of the Kuala Lumpur High Court.
In its decision on Thursday (Sep 2), the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s decision on Jun 19 to dismiss the government’s attempt to forfeit more than RM195 million ringgit (US$47 million) belonging to UMNO and other entities.
According to Malaysian media, the prosecution had appealed against the earlier ruling to dismiss the forfeiture of the money allegedly linked to state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (IMDB).
The money was seized by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) during its investigation into the 1MDB scandal involving former prime minister Najib Razak.
Around RM192.9 million belonged to UMNO and RM1.05 million belonged to its Kedah state liaison committee, reported Bernama.
Additionally, RM300,000 was forfeited from Wanita MCA. There was also the sum of RM1.5 million belonging to five business firms who received payments from Najib, the Bernama report added.
With the judgment of the Appeal Court, it means that they can now keep the money they received from the former prime minister.
According to one of the judges of the Court of Appeal, Hadhariah Syed Ismail, the High Court judge who dismissed the prosecution’s appeal did not err in his judgment to dismiss the forfeiture suit by the government.
She said the prosecution failed to prove that the money came from 1MDB.
“The respondents had no knowledge, no reason to suspect the monies they received from Datuk Seri Najib were proceeds from unlawful activities,” said Judge Hadhariah as reported by Malay Mail.
On the appeal in relation to the business entities, the judge noted that the monies received from Najib were the payment for services rendered by the business entities to him.
“The respondents supported their case with documentary proof such as invoices. The respondents had no knowledge and no reason to suspect that the monies they received from Najib were proceeds of unlawful activities,” she said, according to Bernama.
In a separate case, the Court of Appeal also allowed the Pahang UMNO liaison committee to challenge the High Court’s forfeiture order of RM2.48 million of its funds.
“The court found that the trial judge had erred and disregarded the facts that the money had been spent and no longer available, and that the money seized was from other sources and were lawful money,” Judge Hadhariah was quoted as saying by Bernama.
The money had been part of the sums totalling RM270 million that had been seized by the MACC in its civil forfeiture suit against 41 individuals and entities, including UMNO.