Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Asia

UMNO MP Ahmad Maslan acquitted of money laundering charges after paying RM1.1 million compound

UMNO MP Ahmad Maslan acquitted of money laundering charges after paying RM1.1 million compound

Pontian MP Ahmad Maslan. (File photo: Bernama)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's Pontian MP Ahmad Maslan was acquitted on money laundering charges by the High Court on Wednesday (Sep 29), after he paid a compound of RM1.1 million (US$239,000).    

Mr Ahmad, who is also United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) secretary-general, was charged with failing to declare the RM2 million he allegedly received from former prime minister Najib Razak in November 2013 to the Inland Revenue Board (IRB).

He was also charged for giving false statements to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) when he was questioned on the matter by an investigating officer in July 2019.

High Court judge Ahmad Shahrir Mohd Salleh ordered the discharge when told by the deputy public prosecutor (DPP) that the prosecution was withdrawing the two charges after the accused paid the RM1.1 million compound on Tuesday.

DPP Mohd Mukhzany Fariz Mohd Mokhtar told the court that the prosecution had applied for Mr Ahmad to be discharged not amounting to an acquittal on both charges.

Judge Ahmad Shahrir said that with the withdrawal of the charges, the accused would not be charged again in the future.

“In making the application not to proceed with the prosecution against the accused, the DPP confirmed that the accused will not be charged again with the same charges in the future. 

“This is due to the fact that the accused had accepted the offer of compound and had settled the compound payment,” he said, as quoted by Bernama.

"The court hereby orders that the accused be acquitted and discharged of the first and second charge. All dates that have been fixed to hear the case have been vacated," he added.

Mr Ahmad, a former deputy finance minister, was alleged to have received RM2 million, believed to be proceeds from unlawful activities, from Najib via a check from AmIslamic Bank Berhad dated Nov 27, 2013, which he personally cashed on the same day. 

He was alleged to have violated Section 113(1)(a) of the Income Tax Act 1967 by not stating his real income on the RM2 million he received in the Income Tax Return Form for Assessment Year 2013.

The first charge, framed under Section 4(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, provides a maximum fine of RM5 million, or imprisonment for up to five years, or both, if found guilty.

The other charge of giving false statements to the MACC was framed under Section 32(8)(c) of the same act. It provides a maximum fine of RM3 million, or imprisonment for up to five years, or both if found guilty.

AHMAD MASLAN CAN STILL CONTEST IN ELECTIONS: LAWYERS 

In a statement on Wednesday, Mr Ahmad’s law firm, Messrs Shahrul Hamidi & Haziq, said their client had paid the RM1.1 million compound as agreed by the prosecution and the defence.

They also claimed that Mr Ahmad is not disqualified from contesting in elections. The Constitution stipulated that an MP can be disqualified if he has been sentenced to a jail term of not less than a year or fined not less than RM2,000. 

The Malaysian Insight quoted the lawyers as saying that the Election Commission (EC) had given this guarantee during the negotiations the defence team held for settlement of the case with the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).

“The EC replied in a letter on February 9, 2021 stating it had referred the matter to the AGC. 

"Another reply from the EC on May 5, 2021 stated a positive answer that our client, in paying the compound (which is not a court fine), will not jeopardise his eligibility as a lawmaker and will not lose his eligibility to contest a parliamentary seat in the coming general election,” said Mr Ahmad’s lawyers. 

The statement said that the settlement does not tantamount to a guilty plea. 

"It was done according to the law and has gone through a transparent process," it added.

Separately, the MACC has clarified that the payment made by Mr Ahmad is to compound his offence of failing to declare his receipt of RM2 million from Najib to the IRB.

The MACC explained that the compound payment was a form of punitive action taken against individuals charged with money laundering, according to Malay Mail.

It noted that Mr Ahmad had throughout the course of his criminal trial made several representations to the authorities through his lawyers, before agreeing to the compound payment. 

“MACC would like to explain that the compound (payment) imposed on the accused is a punitive action against any individuals charged with said offence and is a form of asset recovery under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001,” the statement added.

AHMAD MASLAN SLATED TO BE DEPUTY SPEAKER 

Mr Ahmad was one of two MPs reportedly slated for the position of the Lower House’s deputy speaker, following the resignation of Pengerang MP Azalina Othman Said.

Malaysian media reported that Mr Ahmad had been nominated for the position by the ruling coalition, while Pakatan Harapan put forth former deputy speaker and Teluk Intan MP Nga Kor Ming.

Election for the position was, however, postponed on Sep 14, pending an amendment to the Federal Constitution to create a third deputy speaker post.

De facto law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the role of the third deputy speaker would be held by the opposition.

He said that the proposed amendment could have its first reading by the end of the current parliament session and later be passed during the following parliamentary session in October.

 

Source: AGENCIES/ih(tx)

Advertisement

Also worth reading

Advertisement